American Cancer Society’s
2019 Construction vs Cancer Las Vegas
Saturday, February 9, 2019
Greetings sports fans and welcome to another thrilling edition of Vegas Valley Sports Beat that spunky, albeit somewhat irregular little column that dares to say
And I say it not once my dear friends but twice now in my own lifetime, I can say what the pocket of my shirt said on October fourth, 2017 when I went into the operating room and beat cancer for the second time in my life.
This was drawn on my shirt pocket.
Indulge me for a moment won’t you please should I digress, but in my lifetime I have lost a large number of the people I loved to various cancers including more than one to brain tumors. One of whom was an intimately close friend named Tinker.
In fact, out of our little circle of six close friends in Virginia, Sandra died of heart disease and her husband Michael died after a long battle with throat and mouth cancer. The other lady, Joanie died of an embolism in her brain at work. Her husband was scheduled to begin chemotherapy a few days later but missed his window of opportunity to handle her funeral and he succumbed to the disease after a long slow battle. My girlfriend, Tinker, also had tumors in her stomach, well you already know her fate. Only one of them survived.
But I know I am never alone for Thou art with me. Your love is my rock, my strength when I am weakest, my light when it is darkest, my comfort, my joy, and my courage when I have nothing else left with which to overcome fear. These things I know in my heart are what love is, and I know that all things shall perish and fall into dust, but love survives forever.
Among my other proud moments, I helped build the new Children’s Research Hospital. The big beautiful pink one in Memphis, Tennessee. I put in, among other things, the emergency stairway that runs down to the basement from the first-floor, close to the elevator shaft which I nearly fell into a few times while my partner was welding the stairs to the wall because I was so tired.
Most of the time I was on that job I slept in my car rather than commute back and forth from Coal Hill, Arkansas to Memphis every day. But not every day. It has the distinction of being the only place where I ever fell asleep two times while I was walking over to start work on those same stairs.
I also helped set up the crane that set all of that beautiful pink stone that surrounds it for another contractor. We were rigging the grandfather block on our crane when their foreman got mad because his men had screwed up the rigging and he nearly broke my hand because of them while I was trying to show them how to fix it. Ours was correct so when he smarted off about a dollar waiting on a dime the only thing he had going for him was that he was already at a hospital.
I took a pay cut to get the job with Brown & Root and it was only supposed to have lasted for a few days but I was there for some weeks. Every day when I went to the hospital’s cafeteria (which BTW has great food, cheap) I saw hundreds of children of every age and every race and they all had one thing in common.
They all had cancer of course and I had hair down to my waist. I always wore a skullcap bandana over it to keep it from getting tangled in the webbing of my hard hat or the Timex Ironman watch I had in the web to let me know when it was lunchtime. Naturally, I got a lot of haunted looks that were filled with pain and longing from the sad brave eyes of some of the young girls and even some of the young boys who had lost their own hair to chemotherapy and or radiation therapy treatments. One horror show I am blessed to have been spared from so far.
But the sun is shining the birds are singing in the trees. Unless you are waking up to find that you have somehow managed to reach room temperature while you were sleeping it is simply a spectacular, Saturday afternoon here in the beautiful Las Vegas valley.
It’s a great day to be alive because it means it’s another last chance to be the person you always thought you could; try not to blow it again. How can he say such nonsense you might wonder? Oh, it’s easy I can assure you. As of today, I myself am fifteen months, 15 days but not yet fifteen hours, as this writing goes to press, cancer free.
Or so my Doctor says.
If the truth be told I can’t call it from where I live because it’s an everyday battle struggling with ceaseless pain that fluctuates between level 4 – 10 and it’s usually for no discernable reason. But it’s both from having cancer and from the ravages of a lifetime of working my ass off hanging iron. Like Betty Davis said, getting old ain’t for sissies.
Neither is surviving cancer.
I have to still deal with mild to severe fatigue and sudden onset illness that also ranges from mild to severe as in have to puke but can’t get out of my chair because I’m too sick to stand up and get to a restroom safely. You learn to fight it back down after a time. Such is life, isn’t it? You fix your gaze on the end game and you endure another day.
On the morning of October 4, 2017, I went into surgery at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas I lost my left kidney to a malignant stage 2 tumor that, according to the Pathologist’s report weighed in at a respectable 10 centimeters while my former kidney tipped the scales at 12.
The fight ended in a draw but, Again.
I was also born with a benign tumor on my left eye which was surgically removed when I was about 3 years of age and really had little idea what was going on. All I knew was that when it began to grow out from beneath my eyelid and spread itself across my eye it burned like fire and it came on as suddenly as you just read about it while I was sitting at the dinner table with my family
In 1966 the science of Oncology was primitive by the standards of today but I survived. Once you’ve had cancer or even a benign tumor such as the one I had from birth you cannot help but think about it from time to time and the older you get the more you tend to think about it and wonder more and more if it will stay gone or if it will someday soon try to make a comeback, but as a more virulent form of cancer.
About nine years ago I had a growth called a pterygium removed from that same left eye and when it appeared it looked like a yellowish mass was growing out across my eyeball. I was a bit concerned as you might expect but my Ophthalmologist assured me it was nothing more than a lesser type of growth and he removed it by laser surgery in an outpatient clinic. Perhaps to him, it was nothing much but not to me.
Assurances from a Doctor, as I have lived to learn, do not mean nearly as much, especially if you are poor, contrary to I was taught by my Father. Still, I thank God every day for institutions such as St. Jude, The American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald’s House, the Shriners, and a myriad of other charities great and small who provide the very best medical care money can buy for children with cancers.
Children who might otherwise, and in far too many cases, have no hope for another tomorrow today. God bless them one and all as they endeavor to do it all free of charge to the families of those children. I wish that I could name them all here but since I cannot I invite anyone who reads this if anyone at all to leave the name(s) of anyone I missed in the comments or send them a little love if you are able. Even the poorest person can give away a thousand smiles or a gift of their time and be no poorer for it. Quite the contrary in fact.
There are a million ways to help and who can deny that we are all in this together, or the miraculous power of love to overcome even death? I certainly cannot deny what I know is true. In the grand scheme of things, this article might not count for much but this gift is mine and it comes straight from my heart because I have nothing else left to give.
These Final Words from The American Cancer Society.
Reprinted from the linked website above.
Imagine a young child affected by cancer being given the opportunity to sit in and help operate a piece of equipment such as a backhoe, dozer, or excavator! That is the goal of “Construction vs. Cancer” – a unique fundraising event that provides a festive, fair-like atmosphere for young cancer survivors and their families, sponsors and ticket holders! More than 1,500 little and big construction enthusiasts are expected to attend this unique fundraising event benefiting the American Cancer Society in the mission to eliminate cancer as a major health issue through research, patient services, and advocacy.
The American Cancer Society is working to finish the fight against every cancer in every community. We are the largest private, not-for-profit funder of cancer research in the United States, investing more than $4 billion since 1946. Thanks in part to our contributions, more than 1.5 million lives have been saved in the US in the past two decades. Now, that is a reason to celebrate, so please join us.
We hope to see you there! Thank you Las Vegas 2018!