Daily Archives: September 4, 2007

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.