What I learned from Cancer 2.0

recovery.jpgSix days after surgery recovering in the California sunshine.

Last week was a Really Great Week. Everything went my way. When you’re a cancer survivor, you don’t forget weeks like this.

The pathology on the tumors they removed was 90% probability they are benign. I did not receive inter-operative radiation. Surgery took two hours and then while still open, the Docs evaluated the tissue for an hour. I could feel the difference when I woke up. My prior surgeries had been eight and fours hours. I knew this one was not as bad.

It was an intense emotional moment to have my wife Jessy tell me the news. When you have a one foot incision, it’s damn hard to laugh or cry. I wept.

Four days later I came home, and five days later I was off pain meds. I feel pretty good.

I learned something powerful when I blogged about my cancer. Although I have a number of incredible lessons from my one-year battle in 2004, this time I was the beneficiary of yet another.

I struggled with writing publicly about cancer. Originally I was only going to blog internally to my fellow Atlassians. It is easy to be inhibited about disclosing this disease to the business community. But everyone has either had cancer in their family or friends.

I wrote the blog last Monday when I found out my surgery was Wednesday. Tuesday, 1002 people viewed my blog thanks to:

The community was awesome. People I never even met wrote me passionate emails. I was touched.

Tuesday, the day before surgery, would not normally be a Real Groovy Day. You go onto a clear liquid diet and clean out your system for the surgery. Not a regimen I would recommend. Instead, it was an exhilarating day. Watching the comments, emails and views pour in from people I inspired turned out to be a massive inspiration to me.

What I learned is inspiration is circular: giving it is very inspiring back. The blog became this powerful therapeutic thing. Right before major surgery. I was psyched. I was so up I ran two miles at 6 A.M. before my surgery. I checked my blog stats one last time Wednesday before going under the knife. I could see I would touch 2,000 people before I was done.

Every time a nurse or resident or Doc talked to me at Stanford, I told them to go read my blog. I jokingly nagged the pre-op team to read my blog while they got me ready. They did! They loved it.

Everyone fundamentally wants to have a positive attitude. I am blessed with being a Pig-Headed Blind Optimist. Paul Herman sent me research that says optimists live longer. Brad Porteus also gave me the Norman Cousins book, Anatomy of an Illness that says a patient’s own powers – laughter, courage, and tenacity – are effective weapons against disease. That’s my strike zone. I guess it’s second nature for me.

Next month I hit the three-year milestone of being cancer free.

23 responses to “What I learned from Cancer 2.0

  1. Yup… laughter, courage and tenacity, what a trio! Really glad to read this Jeffrey, old bean, keep taking it easy :)

  2. Cheers, Jeff – glad it went well (I’m sure it felt obliged to in the face of such optimism and support!)

  3. Jeff: great news, and a great post. Glad to hear that.

  4. Great news. I’m glad it went well.

  5. So delighted to hear the great news… continued best wishes from the Corb family.

  6. Jeffrey, great to have you back! :-)

  7. welcome back! thrilled to learn the outcome :)

  8. goodness indeed. See you in the alps on your bike!

  9. Jeffery – I only recently subscribed to your blog after a phone call with you a few weeks back on matters Atlassian. The first entry I read was the one previous to this and I was gobsmacked, saddened and inspired all in one moment. I’d consider myself a terminal optimist (pardon the term :-) ) as well, but I’ve never had to test that attitude again a life and death situation like yours.
    I’m relieved that you’re out the other side. Keep enjoying that sunshine.

  10. Jeffrey,
    Congratulations mate – I’m glad to hear you’re in the clear!
    Stewart

  11. Never to late to say thanks for making it. Thanks because we all want to have hope that the good guys win a few here and there. You are and you did.

    Josh

  12. Hi Jeff,
    Awesome! Looking forward to seeing you in Sydney again soon.
    Sarah.

  13. Jeffrey,

    When I first read about the news that the cancer had reappeared my heart absolutely sunk. I couldn’t write anything; I didn’t have the words.

    This outcome is the best news I’ve read all year. I am so glad that you don’t have to go through all that bullshit again. Once is one time too many. I can only hope that I could be as courageous as you in the face of such adversity.

    Best wishes mate, hope to catch up soon.

  14. Although I have talked to many of you, now that I am actually sitting in the Atlassian office, I want to say how thankful I am to know or have _any_ association with the likes of the friends behind these comments. The last comment from Chris Owen triggers this because Chris’ courageous blog about his challenges gave me the cajones to go public.

    I am sitting here with a fine bottle of Australian Kilikanoon Shiraz which my buds in Sydney sent me. Excuse me, mates! Thanks a million.

    I am doing great. Putting on pants is weird. :-) But otherwise, A-OK. Now I just need a corkscrew. Jeffrey

  15. Learned last week you’d been ill again, but news of a good outcome reached me in quick time… (the power of the Clare Cooke/Jen Lum network)

    So glad to hear you’re well and to discover RadioWalker….

  16. Jessy has just the BIGGEST tongue! The boys told me the good news when in the UK. I’m so pleased. I have a smiley face :)

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