Wednesday, November 5, 2008

National Novel Writing Month

Well, NaNoWriMo is here (for those who don't know what it is, google it), and its got me pretty excited. Why? Well, for the first time, I'm not stopping every two minutes to edit what I've done like I always do. Instead, I'm just letting the creative juices flow and writing and writing and writing, and My God, isn't it a whole lot of fun. Its the 6th day today, and already my story has deviated quite far from what I thought I would be writing, though I'm keeping the general theme in mind. The great thing about this challenge is that you never know whats coming next, and thats where your crazy inventiveness comes into play, with wacky characters, absurd dialogue and a plot so full of holes you wonder it stands together at all! And its so gratifying to see that word count rising every day!

NaNo! Because Writing is fun.

Friday, July 4, 2008

You have donated: 10,000 grains of rice

I saw something online that really freaked me out. It was chilling.

On the right, theres a ticker updating the number of hunger deaths in the past hour, and it was increasing by 1 every 2 seconds. Pictures included. Trishaka Trivedi. Iniaka Diop. Chaiyo Seow. Shasmecka Bonita. All children. They look like any child you would meet on the street, not so different from you and I. Who am I kidding? 

We're poles apart. We're born into privilege. They're born into a struggle for survival. I want to go to the latest movie. They would do anything for a bowl of rice. At 17, I hang out with my friends and laze around doing nothing. At 17, the boy is responsible for his mother and seven younger sisters, for their daily subsistence and survival.

I'm pretty sure that for most you of (me for sure), guilt sets in, and you wish you didn't blow so much on something so stupid, because you could have...what? Exactly. You not spending any money on yourself is not going to help a family 3000 miles away survive. They're not going to eat your abstinence. Ok, you could donate to charities (there are SO many of them, chief among which is the UNFP - UN Food Program, but how are you going to donate enough money to make a difference when your only source of income is pocket money?)

You can't exactly convince your dad to donate much money either because he's too busy working to keep your family in comfort, and who can blame him? There is something that a lot of us have now, however. Time. Time to learn and time to give.


“Web game provides rice for hungry . . . FreeRice went online in early October and has now raised 1 billion grains of rice [by November 9].”

- BBC News

“Addictive, yes. But . . . each correct answer results in the donation of rice to help feed the hungry around the globe. Perhaps that qualifies the game as a good addiction . . . one with redeeming qualities, something that’s, oh, didactic and edifying.”

- Kansas City Star is a vocabulary building game that donates 20 grains of rice to the UN WorldFP for every word meaning that you get right. Its gets harder as your Vocab Level goes up. So you learn new words, which is a MAJOR plus point - vocabulary being a primary measure of intelligence, and you donate rice to the UN WFP.

The rice is sponsored by the ads on the game page, the logic being the more you stay on, the more exposure the company gets. Obviously they don't courier 560 grains of rice to Uganda! Instead, they wait until the rice grains accumulate to the level that they can send them off in sacks with freerice in green emblazoned on it. 

Want proof that its real?

Go to the World Food Program Website,, and click on How to Help in the blue tab on the left. In the orange tab that springs up, click on Give More Rice. There's a link for a video. Its called: 'Video: FreeRice for Bangladesh' in red bold font on the left of the picture. Watch it. I'm not ashamed to say that I shed a few tears while watching it. 

And for an added feel good factor, it lets you keep score of how much you've donated in the past. I got addicted. I learnt that full family needed 7200 grains of rice for one meal. I reached 10,000 recently, not enough for more than one family. Why bother? 


Its a game. You have fun and learn something.


Where would the world be if we all asked that? 

The hunger deaths have reached a thousand from 400 by the time I wrote this post. Start playing. 

Change of Style

On the advice of a friend whose counsel I respect a lot, I'm changing the focus of this blog from being a description of everyday events in my life to being a platform for thoughts, ideas, opinions, views, people, things or anything that I feel need sharing, with the occasional description of a mega event - like Board Results, me getting my visa or Prize Day -  thrown in. 

The last post is an example of the new focus and style that I'm adopting. I hope I don't disappoint. 

The Strength of the Everyman

You know, I read something the other day. Its one of the few books I've finished at a single sitting. Its by Randy Pauch, called 'The Last Lecture'. Now most Last Lectures are held when professors or lecturers leave a university or retire from teaching. This one is something different. 

Randy has 3 children, 2 boys and a girl, and an awesome wife. He's a full Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, teaching Virtual Reality based courses. You'd think he hit the life jackpot. He has Pancreatic cancer. And its terminal. Doctors have given him five months. 3 kids. Life can be cruel sometimes. 

After all the crying and getting to terms with whats happening : you can never fully understand why, but you can, eventually, accept that it has happened, and deal with it. In my case, I had a relatively easy to cure type of Cancer. I lucked out on the life stakes. Randy (and all the people who go unrecognized but fight the same battles in some form or the other every day) didn't. 

There are a few people who have the fortune/misfortune of knowing exactly when they're going to die. Fortune or misfortune? I know where I stand. I'd rather die hit by a bus than sit a hospital bed waiting, watching the clock tick your life away. I've had that unpleasant experience (at least at the start of my treatment, when the prognosis was grim, later it got a whole lot better) and it really, really sucks. Its like being on death row but in a very comfortable prison. 

Anyway, reading his book made me realize what true strength is. Some of my friends tell me : Oh no, I don't know how you were able to do it. I wouldn't have been able to take it.

You're WRONG.

All of you. You're all wrong. Randy's strength, it's there in all of us. It's the Strength of the Everyman. Some of us are called upon to use it. Some aren't, and because they aren't, they think they don't have it. They do. Everyone does. 

Randy actually has the courage to compose a book and do a Last Lecture, his legacy to his children. He is trying to spend all the time he can with them before the end. I've heard many quotes about why people die so early, why life was so cruel to them. The one I liked best was:

God loved him so much he took him for his own. 

So Randy, instead of wasting away the precious last moments of his life in a bed, is filming himself with his children, creating a legacy that will assuage the children and their mother in their massive grief once the inevitable happens. They can say : 'My dad did this! He was a Professor! He was a brilliant man! I'm so proud of him.'

Randy Pauch is a slight man, but his is a deeper strength, much, much more than the superficial strength of muscle and sinew. It is a reserve that is called upon when we need it the most. And reading his book, and watching him on YouTube, I was struck by how he thought about the effect of his death on everybody else, when, in a few months, he would not be there to see his sons and daughters grow, live the joys of a parent and become a grandparent. All this was denied to him. Yet, his only thought was for others. He accepted his fate, and worked to make sure that he would still have lingering impact when he was gone.

We worry and worry about marks, the right college, the right hairstyle, being cool. Its only when you face up to the much larger matters of life that you realize how petty all those matters are. Some of us are lucky enough to endure an experience that opens their eyes to this truth. It is because I believed in the Strength of the Everyman that I made it through that ordeal. It is because of the Strength of the Everyman that Randy Pauch can roll with the punch. Its because of the Strength of the Everyman that you find people ravaged by disease, hunger and age still able to smile, to appreciate life as a gift. 

Hundreds of millions of people live a life of such abject poverty that they have a square meal every two or three days. Yet they endure. They bear children. They have a dream for their children, that they live a life much better than their own, and so, in a hope of a better future, if not for themselves, then at least for their sons and daughters, they linger on. This is the Strength of the Everyman. 

All of us have it. I'm not special at all. I have no superpowers. I'm not especially tall or short, not handsome or ugly (opinions differ on that :P), I'm average at studies. I'm good at some sports, ok at others and positively HORRIBLE (8-0 guys!) at some. I've had a little more than my fair share of bad luck in life. I've missed out on one of life's greatest gifts, something a lot of people take for granted. Then He decided to test me some more. I'm still here, and I'm looking forward to a great future. I'm a living example of the Strength of the Everyman. 

Look within yourself, and believe. I did, and I won. 

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Prize Day

I was at Modern Symphony practice with the guys (I don't actually sing) when I got a call from Rohan Mazumdar telling me that I was being awarded a Special Prize, and that he wasn't exactly sure what it was called. Sure enough, James made it official a few minutes later by calling and asking me to cut my hair and get a pink tie for Prize Day. Devashish also got a call (Quite obviously!). So naturally this cheered me up immensely after the debacle of the board results.

The Prize Day for the Seniors was to be the 1st of June. Eeshaan and Rohan were involved in the actual ceremony, with Rohan generally overseeing stuff and Eeshaan strutting his stuff on stage. The day came, I went to school with Izaan and Devashish (Eeshaan and Rohan reached there a little earlier), found Rajiv who had arranged for ties, but we were one short. So we went around school looking for one pink tie - Zeba said Mrs. Murthy had it and Mrs. Murthy said Zeba had it, so Priyank and I gave up and headed back. I donned the pink tie over the white shirt that Mazum lent me, and then went upstairs to cool off in the gym AC with Devashish and Charan. Halfway through, Devashish was treated to a long discussion with Mr. Arya about the injustice of being born poor while I ducked into a nearby class.

Soon, it was time, and we headed to the Auditorium. It was mostly empty, but Devashish, Ayaz and myself took our seats on the right side of the hall and chatted for a while. The school appeared to have majorly underestimated the number of people that were going to attend, and thus many were left standing, mostly parents and teachers. The Chief Guest of the Evening was Shashi Tharoor, whom I was really looking forward to meeting up close.

And so it began. Mr. Bloud's summary of the school year seemed to include EVERY single event that took place, and so took a sizable amount of time, and then the actual distribution ceremony started. The presentation was the same as last times, I remember making it with Adhitya and Rajiv!  They started with the Junior grades, and I automatically clapped for everyone who came up, as did most of us, but the coolest part in each Grade was when ONE guy or ONE girl won like six prizes. (Devashish and I were having a chat with Akshay Subramanian before this. Deva asked him what prizes he won. He thought for a minute, and then said it would probably be better if he told us what he didn't win! Hilarious) These people were so short and they staggered off stage with a ton of books balanced in their hands. It must really suck to come after them!

The whole prize day was like a musical with breaks for Prize Giving. They had Lion King, Oliver, a few others and Saturday Night Fever! SNF was scheduled just before the Special Awards were given out and Eeshaan OWNED THE STAGE! My dad wanted to go buy the CD of Saturday Night Fever after the performance, and all of us were up and chanting along and cheering him on! I love that guy! Anyway, then came the special prizes. Notable mentions in the Special Awards are Zeba, Apoorva, Karishma and Srishti who DAZZLED us with their fantastic scripting skills and went up to DESERVEDLY collect the best Playwright Award together. I don't think there was anyone there who deserved their award more than them :P 

Anyway, jokes aside, some two prizes into the ceremony, Deva nudges me and I realize that they're saying something about grit and determination and adversity, so I get up and wait at the right while they finish the introduction (Zeba was there in the front for some reason - oh yeah, TWO Special awards, would you believe it - and she looked back and gave me a smile) and then I strode up on stage. I think Mr. James still wanted to say something, but the rest of it was a blur. I went to Shashi Tharoor and shook his hand, and he told me something, which I couldn't hear over the audience - however I nodded my head wisely - and then posed for pictures and headed back off stage. I tried vainly to find my father and grandfather where they were last sitting, but I was told that Mr. Solomon later shifted them up to the front, where, oddly, I didn't spot them!

Anyway, the ceremony ended soon after, as the Special Awards were last on the agenda, and then Shashi Tharoor came up and delivered a speech that blew me away. It was funny, yet serious, light yet thought provoking and so relevant in terms of todays world. I was really impressed that he had composed that just for this occasion - UNTIL Mr. James and Adhitya told me that he had said most of the same stuff at another event (I think the inauguration of the Debating Society) so that kind of burst my bubble. 

It was time to exit the hall now, and my father and grandfather were waiting outside. I asked them to wait while I collected the box for my award, accepting congratulations from many people I knew - Rajivs parents, Srini's parents, Mu'az's family and some others as well as several teachers- as well as people I had never met. A most gratifying experience.

A quick run up to the classes when I realized that I had left my bag there, and then we headed off a bit early because Dad was really tired as he had come directly from office. I wanted to linger a bit and talk to everyone but it is what it is.  So we left, and in the car, I get a most touching piece of information. I had got a standing ovation. I didn't notice it in the glare of the lights, but my dad assures me it happened. I was really touched. And deeply grateful. A milestone day in my life. 

Board Results

Devashish, Eeshaan and I set out to get the results at school. On the way we were discussing how we would rearrange the facial features of anyone who tried to call and tell us our marks. Obviously, you could cut the tension in the car with a knife. The ride passed with occasional lame jokes and each of us telling the other that we weren't going to do so well. Deva kept out of this.

We reached school, and tried to look important as we strode towards the IT Lab. Charan met us on the way - 95.something! Then we made our way into the Lab and barricaded ourselves in. Apparently the internet didn't work, so it was a mad rush to call parents and ask them to check it for them. Results kept coming out. Izaan - 96. Ankit - 96. Superman/Rohan - 97.75. Rajiv - 95.something (I keep confusing him and Charan, which one got .5 and .75) Deva 96.75!(and NO subject below 95! Amazing!) . I tried to get mine but the site wasn't loading my page. Finally it loaded, and guess what it showed. 

X's in place of my marks. Why? Because I had given it at another centre, it wasn't B/8308/021 (which I had written on every one of my papers) but B/8something/093 (a school in Mumbai who provided the invigilators during the exams). So I wait in the front lobby in a state of major tension, while everybody around discusses their marks, some happy, some not so happy. I ask Mr. Bloud what was happening with my marks. He said that they were contacting the ISC so that they could forward my marks to me. 

I only had time at school until my dad came to pick me up, because he had to head home and then out again. So I was praying I got it before then, but I didn't, and ended up leaving with my dad as a nervous wreck. We got into the car (Rohan also came with us as he lives near me) and we headed back home. About 5 minutes into the ride I get a call from school. Its Mr. Bloud. My results have come in. Before he reads them out to me, he tells me that they didn't include the practical marks. Oh, oh. He reads them out, and I am literally crushed. I don't want to mention my marks here, suffice to say they were crap. I started sobbing, and Rohan, the awesome friend that he is, comforted me (along with my Dad obviously). But I couldn't get it off my mind for a few days, and kept responding to 'Well Done!' with 'for what!' for quite some time until my aunt and cousins and immediate family stopped telling me it was good. I know they were trying to make me feel better, but 83.5 is never going to be good enough for me.

Anyway, thankfully, as it always happens, people soon forgot all about it and started concentrating on preparing for college, enrolling for courses, getting their study permits (a perpetual thorn in my side, this deserves another post by itself.) I had already enrolled in all my courses and paid the enrollment deposit to book my place while I was in the hospital itself, so I was set from that end.  

I think the whole college, study permit thing deserves another post. I'll get down to that soon. 

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cancer - The Middle and The End

I'm writing this at the end of a very long journey. The journey comprised six months of treatment, six cycles of chemotherapy, and 30 cycles of brain radiations. My dad was at my side for the most time, supported by my family from Canada, Pune, Delhi, Chennai... everywhere. Most of all, I can't forget the support given to me by my family in Dubai. Of course, I mean my sister and grandfather, but my family in Dubai is much larger. The amazing support I got from my school, my friends, people I didn't even know who started sending me mails, the teachers at school, and every single person who took the time to pray for me, relentlessly, day after day, until He decided I was too much of a bother and let me go. For that, I am truly grateful.

A few highlights of the ordeal. The relationship and bond that I formed with the doctors and nurses were beyond belief, and the lengths that they went to to make me comfortable were... beyond the power of words to capture. They have such a thankless job, and yet one that thanks them the most, for they have a real influence on real lives, and one for which the lucky people they have touched are truly thankful.

Although I was irritated with it when I was there, I miss the daily routine. It was something like this: 

6:45 - Tea
7:30 - Change the sheets
8:00 - Shower
8:30 - Breakfast
10:00 - Milk
1:10 - Lunch
4:00 - Tea
4:10 - Blood Pressure Check
8:00 - Dinner
9:30 - Milk
10:00 - Sleep

This was interspersed with a thousand people coming in to the room to clean up every day and the occasional head nurse with her entourage coming to visit the favorite patient :P And obviously, the doctor's visits. And even more obviously, the main reason I was there : The chemotherapy and the radiotherapy. The chemotherapy was no big deal. If you read the Lance Armstrong book, it makes a big deal out of it, but that was 1997, and in 2008, it was barely any pain at all, just the initial pricking of needles and stuff. Even that was made redundant by the insertion of a port that ran directly to the heart, surgically implanted near my shoulder. 

And then of course, the exams. I spent the time between 10:00 and 1:00 in the mornings and 5:00 to maybe 7:00 in the evenings trying to cram for the exams, but I felt very very tired so I wasn't able to sustain much of studying momentum. Because of the tiredness generated by the morning I generally slept for about 2 hours in the evening. 

And the exams themselves, what to say. I thought English, EVS, Bio and maybe Chem went pretty well, and it turns out I was right. Only I was wrong when I assumed that I would get awarded Practical Marks. Anyway, people are telling me to be happy with what I got. I can never be happy with 83.5, but I can understand that I'm being too hard on myself, so I just let the matter slide.

And then Dubai!

I came back for a brief 15 days before my sixth cycle (five cycles and then a 15 day gap). It was the most AMAZING thing meeting everyone again, I hadn't seen them for around three months and I managed to miss quite a few school events. 

More on that. I missed quite a bit, but I am SO grateful to Mu'az and whoever helped him for compiling a farewell CD for me, and sending me the little shirt and the invite and book. It REALLY helped cheer me up when I was there. 

So anyway, coming back to Dubai, for however short a time, was AWESOME. I tried to meet at least one friend each day, and since I wasn't allowed out much because my immunity was low, people kept visiting me. 

And then back to Jaslok again, for the sixth cycle. 

Radiotherapy and all was over, just this left. By the way, Radiotherapy is just scary sounding. But its a bird. They take a mold of your head, and then everyday you go down for a few minutes (3 or 4) and they fix it over your head, VERY TIGHTLY, it buzzes for about 4 minutes, and then they take it off. Thank you, come again.

Anyway, back to the sixth cycle. It was nothing great, apparently this was some really high dosage, but they said that about the previous ones, and though this was a different stronger medicine, I really didn't feel much. There's someone looking out for me up there. Thankfully I'm what the doctors call chemosensitive. 

AFP and HCG are Cancer Markers that are used to evaluate how much cancer is in your body. The normal range for HCG is between 3 and 20. Lance Armstrong's at the start of his treatment was 110,000. Mine was a really scary 225. Thousand. 

At the beginning, the doctors said I had a 20% chance. But I didn't hear any of this, because my father and aunt went down to the lobby and sobbed their hearts out and then returned with a brave face. Thanks to them I just worried about whether I would give the exams and how I would study for them, not the much bigger worries that they were facing. 

I've strayed off topic again. The 6th Chemo was a breeze, and after a final blood count we headed back to Dubai. Once there, now for a good month until the final checkup, we registered with a Doctor Pentti, who did the flushing of my port (ask me to explain that to you) and is my oncologist in Dubai. Unfortunately, he only visits Dubai for a week every three weeks. So we did blood tests here as well to make sure I'm fine, and it was all good.

Then began the Canadian Embassy Study Permit and Medical Exam thing, but that by itself is worth another blog post, so suffice to say I had to take a medical exam for my study permit for Canada (York Uni) and send it to London for them to evaluate and decide if I can get the permit. This being a major subject of worry, I'll devote, like I said above, another post to it and the updates on it. Right now we've sent everything they've asked for (the examiner in London asked for additional documentation which we just sent) and we're just praying now. More on that later.

So then it was back to hanging out as much as possible with friends in Dubai, visiting school (an overwhelming experience for me, the support I got was incredible, with all people I didn't know coming up to me and asking me how I was, I was blown away. I owe Mr. Bloud and the school a LOT for convincing the board to let me write the examinations in a hospital bed. 

Anyway, the reactions to me returning to school were unbelievable. I really can't put it into words, so I won't even try. I then visited it again for the Prefects Investiture, and then on Prize day (thats a separate post), and sometimes I just visited it with a few guys to pick up some college documents and just roam around the campus one more time. 

Time flew, as it always does when you're having fun, and it was back to Jaslok for a final checkup. Thankfully, however, we had already done a CT Scan of the whole body in Dubai, so when we got to Jaslok, all we needed to do was a PET Scan, which we did on the next day after we arrived, and then roamed Mumbai (FINALLY! I got to see the better side of Mumbai). And then we got the results of the PET SCAN. It sounded really scary, saying stuff like new lesions found and all. So we're like...crap!

But then we visited Dr. Advani, the main doctor under whose name my file is kept, (he has like 5 docs under him of varying seniority who do the daily checks) - By the way, it is REALLY hard to see the man. Hes the celebrity of the medical world. But anyway, he came up to do his rounds of the 16th floor (mine) and saw the report, and said these lesions were just dead scar tissue and it was nothing to worry about. But just in case, he asked us to do a blood test for the Cancer Markers. Now during successive cycles of Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy my markers were reducing by more than half after each cycle, which was an amazing sign. So after the first cycle, it (HCG) became 125K, and then 67K, and then lesser and lesser until in the 5th cycle it was somewhere around 8, which was still slightly on the higher side, and finally it reached 3! The AFP also did a similar vanishing act but the exact numbers don't come to mind. It was equally amazing though. I am one of the lucky ones for whom Chemo works perfectly. 

So anyway, this blood test showed a completely normal AFP and HCG reading, in fact slightly on the lower side of the normal range, so Dr. Advani waved us off and said 'Do regular checkups every two or three months. But you can live normally now.' For my Dad, this assurance was a much bigger event than the Board Results (obviously) and I breathed a sigh of relief too. Of course, the Study Permit Medical would prove to be a pain in the a**(which also gets resolved - thats another post) in the coming days, but more on that later. Right now, its back to Dubai, friends, laziness, books, guitar, music and general relaxation. Yeah!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cancer - Beginning

'It's a germ cell tumour.'

'I see.'

"Right now, it's spread to the lungs, and there is a tiny one in the brain. Not to worry Munna, we just need to act fast, one operation to remove the major tumour and then we start chemotherapy.'

'I see.'

My father stared across at Dr. Malpani. From possible Tuberculoma to Cancer. Quite the leap. Well. This was news. Surprising? No. I think we were shell shocked as we sat across the table from the Doctor. It took maybe a minute for my Father to compose ourselves as I sat dully in the chair across from Dad, my legs crossed, my mind racing over the implications of what had just been said.

Surprisingly, there were very few tears. Oh, maybe initially, I shed a few, as the initial news seeped in, and my father too, quite obviously - as we walked back to the car together - but then they soon dried out, and by the time we got to the car, we got down to a pretty calm discussion. First things first. We called home.

My grandfather picked up the phone, and we conveyed the news. Needless to say, a few tears were shed again, my grandfather being an emotional person and stuff, as is my father. My sister got to know as well. More tissues went down the drain. I was slowly beginning to accept what had happened - nothing of that dull what-just-hit-me feelings, I just knew that I had something, and this was confirmation, and that it was now time to get down to action - and I was relieved. A pragmatic, practical approach was the best way forward - I needed to become, not detached, but positive. That, as they all say, is half the battle won.

You know what happens next. Frantic calls, some Trans-Atlantic to my relatives in Toronto - my father's sister and her husband flew over immediately - as well as to everybody we possibly know in India - and this is a lot of people - followed, and then long discussions into the night, to which I wasn't privy - not because I wasn't interested or allowed, but because I'd rather take some time to think on my own.

Friends called in, both on the phone, and turned up in troupes at my house - along with teachers, and everyone who could possibly come over - and we shared some food, talked quite a bit; everybody was as positive as possible, telling me I would get better as soon as possible, and to get back to Dubai as fast as I could - my main chemotherapy treatment would be at Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai - and all the usual stuff, you know, not to worry about studies and university application at the minute as this was far, far more important.

I realized that. What I also realized was that after I got through this - here's the thing, there's not an iota of doubt in my mind that I'm getting past this stumbling block - I would still need to go to University on time, not a year late, and I want to give my Diploma examinations as well. So with an enormous amount of help from friends - truly special, I don't think I could have got anywhere without what they did in a day or two, cramming a month's work by forgetting their own problems for a bit - I got my University Applications in well ahead of time; ironically, the very same people who helped with all my Applications are now running around getting their's filled out.

Well, the first two cycles of chemotherapy are over, and everything's looking all rosy - my day seems to consist of reading, writing, studying, and most importantly, eating (food forms a major part of my daily itinerary now, I look forward with glee to the next meal, because everyone wants to cook food, and I want to eat it, the perfect symbiotic relationship) - the prognosis is excellent and the doctors seem to be extremely cheery about my prospects, and I've got a lot of free time on my hands, so yes, it's going great so far. See, I keep telling myself, Cancer and chemotherapy are not all that they're hyped up to be. I'm partly writing this to explode the horror stories and myths about chemotherapy that are associated with ALL types of cancer, because there are some that are worse and some that are not so bad, like mine. If getting lucky in terms of cancer diagnosis is like striking an oil field, then I just struck one the size of the Texas.

So, in the end, I guess it comes down to the fact that life throws you a few curve balls as you go along, and I've dealt with my share of them. This looks to be quite a twister, but with all that help and support and positivism floating around, and a little bit of luck, this one is going to get knocked out of the park.