Advent 2020: Christmas Blessings

Understand this: things are now in motion that cannot be undone.

Gandalf, The Return of the King (the film version).

We are on day 266 of 15 days to slow the spread.

Decisions have been made.

I have vaguebooked over the last few weeks, hinting that there was news to come. And yesterday, I alluded to medical test results that were not happy ones.

Here’s the bottom line, so to speak.

I have cancer.


I don’t have the best timing with these things.

Thirty years ago this month, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I put off going to the doctor because I was in the middle of a work project. When I finally went the urologist said, “Come back tomorrow, and bring your wife.”

That was a Thursday, we went back on a Friday. The following Wednesday, just five days before Christmas, I had surgery.

But, because it’s the way we do things, on the intervening Monday, my stepfather and my father-in-law had prostate surgery. We found out later that on the same day my wife’s aunt had a radical mastectomy.

We rapidly changed our plans. My wife took a quick trip to North Carolina to be with her Dad, then on Tuesday, she and my Mom traveled to Arlington to be there for my surgery. While they were on the Interstates, I bought a tree and decorated it since we’d planned to travel for Christmas due to the other (planned) surgeries.

Here’s the thing. In the midst of all of that, we felt an outpouring of love and support from our friends and families.

To this day, that remains one of my favorite Christmastimes.

Don’t get me wrong, the months and the radiation treatments that followed sucked big time.

Big. Time.

Fast forward thirty years, actually 29. When I had my annual physical last year, my PSA numbers were slightly elevated. Like any respectable, stubborn, American male, I ignored them.

This year, the numbers had risen dramatically. Enough that I couldn’t even find a bogus website that would tell me I could ignore them again.

So, I called for an appointment.

At first I was told “we can’t see anyone until December.” This was mid-October.

When I told her what my numbers were she literally said “Oh Lord, honey, can you come in on Friday?”

That’s a direct quote.

Fast forward a few more weeks. Post exam. Post biopsy. Post bone scan. Post CT scan.

The bad news is that I have prostate cancer. The good news is that the cancer has not spread. I should point out here that the two episodes of cancer are not related.

That brings us to the decision I had to make regarding the course of treatment. I’ll be having seed radiation followed by external radiation.

But first I get the hormone shots. Because, after all, it wouldn’t be 2020 if without the hot flashes and weight gain.

What? Being able to snark at adversity is one of my spiritual gifts.

While this is really my first public notice of this, and I realize my readers both of you,, may already have known some of this, we have already felt the outpouring of love and support.

The Write Side Shop

A different home. A different job. A different church.

But the same spirit of love and support.

That’s a pretty big blessing.

I don’t know what the next few months will be like. I can pretty much guarantee that there’s going to be a lot that I don’t like.

I’m a little concerned that 2020 was just the overture and that the first act is about to begin.

If 2020 taught us anything it’s that are plans are subject to change. Or this year, cancellation.

So, I’m not going to be making lists of what I plan to do in 2021.

Other than beating cancer. Again.

Christmas is next week. It was already going to be quiet. Now, around here it may be a little quieter. And that’s okay.

Maybe being quiet will help us remember what the season is all about.

I’m not sure how to end this post.

Bing Crosby isn’t here to sing me off the stage like he did the general.

Maybe he can help us count our blessings.

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash


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