I think this will move you to appreciate what some people take for granted. I don't think that I can be any more "real" or "original" than this, so I'd appreciate it if you could kindly read my post and offer some positive advice. I've debated writing about this for months, and feel it's finally time to see, first-hand, how "Steem Power" can potentially help others outside of influence, upvoting, and value. I hope this message can inspire others to express themselves for their health when there is pain, because this helped me release a lot of feelings that were buried inside.
It’s good to take a step back and appreciate how laughter can play a vital role in our lives when we need it most. When faced with dark times and despair, it can truly be the best medicine. Trust me on this. The same goes for taking care of our bodies while we're still in control, and for the gift of music, whether through performance or just listening.
I know someone whose Dad has been fighting stage four terminal brain cancer for 2.5 years. This disease has no genetic predisposition and strikes out of nowhere like a freight train. It's ruthless and merciless. People often don't know they have it until symptoms arise to warrant a brain scan, when it's often too late.
When news hit that there was a massive inoperable brain tumor found in a healthy man who often went the gym, it made no sense. I'll never forget the call when I found out, where I was, and the feeling of terror that they might have a few weeks to live.
As it stands today, 2.5 years later, it’s a medical and statistical miracle that this person is still alive. No exaggeration, embellishment, or additional drama is needed here. Other powers were undoubtedly at work. According to the chairman of two brain cancer centers of major city hospitals, this is one of the best survivor cases they’ve ever seen. It's in the 99th percentile, so there's plenty to be thankful for.
For those who don’t know, glioblastoma multiforme (“gbm” – not capitalized to give any proper respect to this disease), is an incurable form of the most aggressive advanced brain cancer that exists. It resembles randomly seeded carcinogenic grains of sand that sprout into new tumors over and over again. When you stop one that just exploded into existence, it’s usually just a short matter of time until the next one does the same. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.
After two rounds of intense radiation and chemo, Gamma Knife radiosurgery, an invasive biopsy, brain tumor surgery, clinical trials, and medical marijuana, the fight is coming to an end. There’s only so much the human brain can take before treatment does more harm than good, whereas whatever quality of life remaining should be preserved for the final phase.
This Dad lost vision in one eye and experienced numerous unpleasant side effects. The amount of medical visits was innumerable, but necessary. All credit goes to his Wife for her unending support and strength during this process, as her children are not based nearby. While unimaginably difficult for everyone, the family was also hit hard. Their daughter was pregnant, so it was critical to shield her from bad news, which could potentially harm the development of the child.
The worst part of this experience was going through constant waves of hope that new tumor growth was halted and that life could return to normal. It wasn't that anyone was lying to themselves, but it was important to be as positive as possible. Words can’t express the relief when a monthly brain scan came out clean, with doctors' jaws dropped, and everyone sighing in relief, finally able to breathe for a few more weeks.
Unless you’ve been through this, every brain scan appointment feels like a Hail Mary pass for a touchdown to win the Super Bowl. After years of that roller coaster, one eventually learns to manage the anxiety and expect the worst, while hoping and being thankful for the best as a gift. It's not always just a cliche.
As home hospice is currently just being set up, everyone except the patient knows that the newest tumor can’t be fought off. His mind can no longer grasp that he has another tumor because his short-term memory is severely damaged from repeated radiation. At some point, a line has to be drawn to drift off a bit more comfortably into heaven. God knows that they've seen enough hospital beds and white coats.
Checkpoint & Plot Twist:
You may think this is more than enough to explain why comedy, fitness and music can help people involved in this struggle find solace, but it’s just the beginning.
Things take a turn for the worse for one of this Dad’s sons, the subject of judgment, criticism, resentment and emotional abuse for as long as they can remember. This is no first-child syndrome scenario or pity party. It was extreme, consistent, and never justified. It was far beyond unfair.
As his Dad was heavily absent from their childhood due to corporate work demands and emotional issues from his own upbringing, his first son grew up sure that he’d never want to follow in some of those footsteps. For example, as a child, his son once called his secretary to schedule an appointment to have a baseball catch, not knowing any better at the time...
While this son excelled in academics, sports and music, and always stayed out of trouble, his Dad unfairly held something against him that never added up. The resentment would show itself in countless ways and through passive aggressive criticism, but the son rose above it because he knew it was impossible to deserve any of it. Sadly, it led to the son passing on college baseball recruitment letters to pursue higher-level academics as the priority informally mandated on him. To this day, it's still his son's biggest and most painful regret in life. This pressure also influenced the son to make some unwise career and relationship decisions after college to prove himself and meet expectations, while losing sight of the pursuit of their own happiness. Fortunately, some of those life lessons paid off down the line.
As brain cancer forced itself to center stage, the son figured that some form of conversation and resolution would transpire, as no Dad would ever want to burden their child with their repressed issues. Sadly, radiation damage can truly be brutal, whereas healthy brain tissue can residually be damaged when killing the cancer cells. As a result, brain function can be drastically reduced. In this case, the healthy tissue associated with emotion control, rational thinking, and short-term memory was severely impaired. On paper, this may sound inconvenient, but when it's time to pass on, it can be rather problematic for those seeking their own peace and closure in that process.
Over the course of treatment, this was evidenced often enough when the Dad would emotionally and verbally abuse his son in front of his family. There was never a good reason. It just happened and did more damage each time. Fortunately, the son held his head up knowing it wasn’t worth worrying about when it was more important to focus on the entire family coping with the larger situation. He knew how to walk away and let it go.
When visiting for his Dad’s last birthday, the worst case scenario happened while at a children's nature center for his nephew of all places. Since paranoia is a side effect, the Dad accused his son of lying to the family and being deceptive about asking to borrow the family car. After decades of patience, the son finally and calmly stood up for himself that he was undeserving of the verbal abuse and that it needed to stop.
What happened next was a tragedy for the son. In an immediate uncontrolled rage, his Dad spit hatred, resentment, blame, scorn and criticism. Statements were made that he had a laundry list of things that he hated about his son since childhood, that he didn’t get his money’s worth for the portion of college tuition he paid, and that he hated his son's home business. Ouch.
Understanding the bigger picture of maintaining peace toward the end of his Dad’s life, his son calmly tried to talk his Dad down from the madness, but that infuriated him more because he thought he was being mocked. The only offense his son took in the conversation was telling him that almost everything he's done in life was to be exactly unlike him, and to make sure he knew he was verbally and emotionally abusive. I personally think those were fair statements to make. His voice was never raised.
After 20 minutes of onslaught, bulging eyes, a red face and unbelievable rage, the son finally told his Dad that he was going to burn the bridge between them. After learning that his Dad's love and encouragement was a façade, it felt like the necessary step to no longer associate with someone who clearly felt this way for decades behind their back. It was time to protect himself and his own health.
He warned his Dad three deliberate times that he was going to lose his son if he didn’t stop the harassment and apologize, as no child should ever be subject to having this burden forced on them. Ironically, this is the child who had been to nearly every brain cancer and treatment visit, who sacrificed income and months of sleepless nights researching for him, and was there in person for all of the good and bad news.
To each warning, the Dad said he was aware that he was burning their bridge with “yes", "I know,” and “good”. The son would never be able to forget that moment. He said "you just lost another son" and walked away knowing that his life would be changed forever.
[You may have already guessed it, but this story is about me and my Dad. I wanted to try to surprise anyone who didn't pick up on that or confirm it for those who weren't sure.]
Since that horrible day, just a few days after I joined Steemit, I’ve never received any form of apology, reparation, conversation, or remorse. All I got was a generic and worthless ~3 sentence email that admitted no fault. The tragedy is that the Dad I respected and loved my entire life was living a lie toward me, and when I need to be able to talk to him most, I can’t. I now knew why he was always too tired to play chess or disinterested in having a catch.
The worst part is that he has no memory of what happened or what was said. I'll never have closure. I'll have to deal with this for the rest of my life. It’s one of most difficult things I’ve ever had to face knowing that it's all on my shoulders now.
On one side, I’m relieved that the truth came out. I wouldn’t have wanted to be naïve and fooled by him anymore, even if that would've protected me. My Mom confirmed that all of his thoughts were true, and has spoken with his siblings to understand that it stems from his own parents and struggles after an ugly divorce with children in the 70’s. He hated that I valued baseball and music so much, and that I had no interest in following in his footsteps for the corporate grind. After all, he had two stress heart attacks from work when I was in my teens, so I was raised thinking that it's probably healthier not to strive to be an executive worrying about office politics and emails over the dinner table.
I eerily have some peace that it wasn’t me all along, that my self-awareness and sanity stood its ground to not be brought down by him too much all along. It makes me feel better than any resistance in the past was beyond justified, so I can release any guilt from prior arguments where I was cornered and had to defend myself.
I'll admit that I chose to quit my solid and secure corporate job at a top bank to work for myself, and even to earn all of my Steem Power, because I’ve been wired to prove myself to my Dad my entire life. To some degree, I wonder where'd I'd be if my Dad treated me better, but I can't complain.
I've since realized that he was resentful that I found a better way to pursue my happiness and freedom, that I wasn't going to struggle exactly as he did. Truth be told, I built myself from ground zero in a different way than most, have earned every penny with my bare hands, and never accepted anything in the past when times were tough. As my cryptocurrency investments have also significantly changed my life and provided me with comforts he'd never understand, all I can do is hope that he’ll look down from heaven and somehow let me know that he's sorry for doubting my ability to be successful on my own terms.
Maybe he'll also read this one day to know what he did...
Back to laughter and comedy! I was barely involved in social media before Steemit, and started posting about my home business and drumming, but didn't get much traction. I thankfully stumbled on the comedy and punchline community to find a niche where I could distract myself from everything above. To any of my original followers who may not appreciate the short slapstick content, hopefully you’ll see why I’ve been so active with it in recent months. I’ve laughed quite a bit and had fun joking around with others. I’ve felt encouragement from them, as well as been rewarded more than I could expect to give me more hope for success in the future.
As for fitness and health, I started my daily 100+ rep fitness challenge after not going to the gym in over a year. I decided to do this because I wanted to get back to my strongest and healthiest shape when my Dad sees me for the last time. I wanted to be be strong physically for myself as well so I could inspire my family to get active again, and my brother to stop smoking. If I didn't take a picture of myself shirtless to hold myself accountable and piss me off to change my appearance, I'd probably not have touched a weight yet and be weak once again for my baseball season. This challenge was also a way for me to relieve stress and surround myself with encouragement from others who participate. Since not working out in over a year, I've now worked out 47 straight days in a row.
As for music, I've never recorded myself drumming for social media except a few clips on Facebook many years ago. It's unlike me to put myself in any spotlight, but I've done so because it's also helped me keep my mind on myself and enjoying a passion of mine. There's a reason I don't want to face the camera. Playing my electronic drums for openmic has helped me get lost in performing for others, regardless of prize results, and have fun. Hopefully the judges will now know why their feedback is so important to me when I ask for it. It's nice to continue to improve and be appreciated.
One nice note to add is that my quitting inspired my senior boss (who recruited me there years before) to also quit shortly after I left so he could pursue his own home business! I helped open his eyes by being true to myself in an environment where most people are afraid to step out of line. This blew me away, and validated my instincts that we're not meant to live with golden handcuffs, unable to spend time with our families and stressed by things outside of our control.
Thanks to everyone who read this and has supported me along the way.
Please no bad words about my Dad...
- My Daily 100+ Rep Global Fitness Challenge Blog - 72,558 Steemian Reps In 46 days!
- Last OpenMic Drum Entry - Super Mario Brothers Theme Song
This obviously isn't a punchline post, but I wanted the crew to see this. Even after writing all of this, I almost deleted it. Hopefully some good will come out of this.