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Louie Carr talks about helping his Mom, Martha Carr recover from melanoma and the removal of part of her leg, to learn to walk and to live again and about the 5k Project. Runners from Infinity Training and PROskydiving are going to run and then skydive at Chicagoland Skydiving Center on the same day in celebration of life. Money will be raised for the Northwestern Dermatology Research on Melanoma fund.


My left leg after surgery for melanoma in October 2009

*Today’s blog originally ran as a column shortly after the second bout of melanoma in late 2009.

Lately, my sense of humor has been slipping just a little. Two bouts of cancer in six weeks have left me feeling a little snippy. I find it more difficult to make a joke over something serious or easily relax back into serenity when something doesn’t go right.

Thank goodness my halo has gone in for repairs. It is only when we are really exhausted and exasperated to our limits that our true self gets a chance to air out a little. My true self had a few cobwebs clinging to it.

It is so easy to know that the world likes me when I’m not asking anything from anyone. It’s especially true when I can give wise, profound answers to other people’s problems and can say just the right thing to bring a little comfort. However, that’s not always life and while being able to be calm, collected and witty is admirable, we were given the emotions of anger and anguish for a reason.

Each human being is so unique that asking others how we should lead our own life is a recipe for disaster. We don’t do things the same way because we all have different motivations. Therefore, we have to learn to trust ourselves in concert with the faith of our choosing. However, there are at least five times a week when I’m in a pickle about which way to turn and it’s then that the full array of emotions can come in handy.

A surge of anger lets me know my boundaries have been crossed or at the least that something’s not right and to question, question, question. Anguish tells me to slow down and recognize the loss. The deeper I feel either emotion the more I know I may need some help to get a better picture of what’s happening to me.

I’m not looking for someone to make a decision for me. That would be disabling and we can only give counsel through our own set of beliefs anyway. I’m looking for a different view at a time that I’m lacking clarity, that’s all.

But so many of us were raised to be independent to a fault and as adults we’re finding out that it’s not only a harder road, it was one we were never meant to take.

People who can ask for help and accept it are more likely to have lower stress levels, better health and live longer. That’s why the areas of the world where people live the longest, the blue zones, are full of interconnected families. Not necessarily low-fat diets or a lot of outdoor activity. [click to continue…]


Cancer Zero & Martha One

In October of 2009 Dr. Jeffrey Wayne at Northwestern said there was a good possibility that I was looking at just one more year of life. I remember him quickly flipping through a notebook that his nurse, Jennifer had put together for me that showed the various stages I would probably be going through shortly.

I was looking in the general direction of the notebook but I was making a point not to really look at any of it. My brain was stuck back on that part of ‘most likely one more year’ and I was thinking about how fast a year spins past.

My son, Louie, who was 21 at the time, was sitting right next to me. We had recently reconnected on a day-to-day basis in August when I moved from NYC to Chicago where he lives.

My whole body was shaking on such a small scale it felt like a deep hum and I don’t know if it was visible on the outside but I couldn’t be sure of any of my movements.

Louie took one look at me just after Dr. Wayne and his nurse left the small, windowless room and said, “You weren’t listening. He said there was hope.” I could feel part of me instantly relax and not because I was able to grasp that concept just yet. I could see in my son’s face a determination to believe in something better.

We say that someone, Cowboyed Up in the South and he had done a great job at it. I knew in that moment that no mattered what happened he’d be okay.

The day of the surgery he had my iPhone and when I got it back it was filled with gun apps so not everything had changed. It gave me a good laugh even while just coming out of the sedation. I left them there for months and yes, it was partially because I didn’t know how to get rid of them. [click to continue…]