You would think that "Staying in the Game" meant the ability for me to be able to win the 2008 Alaska State Racquetball Championship in all ages, at age 62 years old while drawing a social security check!
But actually "Staying in the Game" for me is the transition my life slowly took in a positive way 7 years ago when I was told by my primary doctor, that I had an incurable and very rare cancer called Leiomyosarcoma or LMS. Soon afterwards, I would find out , that it also was Stage 4, and had already metastasized from my right thigh to my lungs! Immediately, my business, family and of course my competitive Racquetball, everything came to a stand still! My life that was in the process of lasting forever, with very little to worry about, suddenly changed right then and there!
My new life was about to begin! Which at first was completely void of goals and direction and most importantly fear!
Because LMS is so rare, Alaska Hospitals were not qualified to give me the proper care and treatment. So even though my family and business was here, my wife and I have spent a good part of the first 5 years in Seattle at there famous Seattle Cancer Care Center and the University of Washington Hospital. The first 5 years were spent trying to catch up with my cancer.
While recuperating from my first surgeries in Seattle I read a book written by Lance Armstrong, that my Uncle had bought me. It was just a book, but it had a tremendous impact on me! I decided then and there that I was going to survive, and that I needed to face this "beast " head on! I also wrote down a quote (offered by Dr. D. Kossove who also has Leiomyosarcoma), that I keep to this day from Dr. Seuss. He said "you have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go!
Now it has been 7 ½ years since I made up my mind to "stay in the game", and not to let this disease change my life, except in the direction I want! Being a survivor has changed my life in a positive way. No matter what course this cancer goes, I'll meet it head on as I've done so many times before with the wisdom and knowledge that Lance Armstrong , Dr. Seuss, and others have taught me!
I now travel the country playing in National and International Racquetball Tournaments, and am currently ranked 5th in the world in my age category. While traveling I meet, talk and sometimes help survivors and caregivers with Sarcomas and other Cancers. Through my Racquetball, I've been able to get my word out to help in the fight for cancer through speeches, newspapers, magazines, television and my annual "slaying the beast" Racquetball fundraisers in Anchorage. It has become Alaska's largest racquetball tournament with many of the participants playing only because its a way for them to help with cancer! Also, in May 2009, we will have a very large tournament in Washington State, to raise money for Sarcomas, and slowly I hope, through Racquetball to have more tournaments, around the country.
With my new life that God has extended to me, I am a board of trustee for LMS direct research foundation trying to find a cure for cancer.
Before cancer, I played Racquetball for me, but now I play it as my way of helping fight cancer. Like so many other people, my only hope is to find a cure. Otherwise. I will always be fighting Sarcomas for as long as I live! Helping people with cancer is, and will be my main purpose no matter which direction my cancer goes, good or bad, for as long as I live!
Last but not least I want to include my family. They've been with me for every challenge and they've made me so proud with their love and devotion. I've come to realize that my Grandkids look to me with respec, and handling this disease correctly will in some way be another lesson I can teach them in life.
Thank-you very much for allowing me to tell my story.