One of the cancer patients I visit is a surfer. He’s been surfing since he was a teenager and hits the waves at least five days a week. When his doctor told him he couldn’t surf while going through treatment, he was devastated, but not for long. He decided that nothing was stopping him from living his passion. Not his doctor. Not chemo. Not cancer.
He has throat cancer and the radiation is doing a number on him, meaning it’s hard for him to swallow. Radiation is supposed to shrink tumors, which is good, but the side effects are; it shrinks tissue surrounding it. The same thing happened to me. In my case the muscles got so tight in my lower back, it was hard to bend over, but I could still eat. I also did stretches several times a day to loosen things up. It’s hard to stretch the throat. It can be done but it’s more difficult. After *Dan lost a considerable amount of weight, his doctor decided a g-tube (feeding tube) would help him get the nutrients he needed. A g-tube and surfing are not a good mix. The area around the tube can become infected (from bacteria floating in the ocean) and Dan could get very sick… but that doesn’t stop him. He figured out a way to keep the bacteria out, or at least he is doing his best. He cuts up a large sponge to fit around the g-tube, wraps his torso with plastic wrap and wears his wet suit over that. I have to give the guy credit. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
You and I might think this is plain crazy but we aren’t surfers (at least I’m not anyway). It’s this kind of passion that will help Dan beat cancer. Surfing is his reason to get up in the morning. He’s not married. He doesn’t have kids. His friends are all surfers. Dan told me they watch out for him when he’s on his board and they even let him have the “good” waves. I don’t know what his doctors think about this, but if surfing is what keeps Dan coming back for treatment, to get better and “hang ten,” then more power to him.
What all this comes down to is quality of life. Most of us have something we are passionate about; whether it’s our family, our jobs, a hobby or as in Dan’s case, surfing. We all need something to get excited about or what’s the use in living? In my opinion, life is supposed to be fun, so when life “kicks you in the ass” with something like cancer, and you are physically able to keep doing what you love, then do it. You’re the only one who knows your limits. Dan knows his and when his body tells him to rest, he does it.
What makes you happy? Are you going to let a little thing like cancer stop you from doing what you love… even if it’s visualizing yourself doing it until you physically can? Can I get a “hell no!”
*Dan is not his real name