Friday, August 15, 2008


Love whiteboards. Love the fact an Art Director is making tons of cash because he can draw his ass off on a whiteboard. (My Son, Travis, hates the guy. I don't know why.) Love it when you write something really good on the whiteboard. Love when someone else makes a contribution on the whiteboard.

I take a walk by our two big whiteboards that are really wall whiteboards all the time. People draw arrows, graphs, TV storyboard boxes––that would be me because I can't draw anything else––conclusions, even draw up strategies. Sometimes. Rarely. OK, almost never. But we're making progress.

In some ways, whiteboards are big blank "your ad goes here" spaces that are just begging for attention. Try walking past one that's got stuff written all over it––with some circles and dates that beg you not to erase all the great thinking––without looking. Can't do it. It's a magnet. Today, Industry Ju-Jitsu was written in red marker on the whiteboard. Nice one, Rory. I've also seen "I think I've seen your best work already", a client issuing a challenge. One that we would later meet and exceed. The first time I saw a wiki was on a whiteboard.

I got a whiteboard from work as part of a care package to help me through the cancer. I had surgery where they took out my tonsils, scrapped my larynx and took a chunk out of my tongue. So talking was not going to happen right away. And boy, did I use that whiteboard. I think my family was ready to break it over my head after a while. But the funniest thing was trying to communicate with my Dad. I couldn't talk and he couldn't read my writing. And he was wearing hearing aids that he kept saying needed to be replaced. Man, if it didn't hurt to laugh so much back then I would have died on the floor laughing. And this happened all the time. I know it was entertaining for the rest of the family.

Whiteboards are great because you can write anything you want on it and then wipe it away. As I was battling cancer, I would write down all the dates. The names of all the medications. The surgeries. The treatments. And then, I couldn't write anymore. I didn't know how to describe the crap I was going through. My mind was only concentrating on beating cancer. Keep it strong. Don't let all the stuff they put in me, beat-up my body and knock it out. Be strong so I could be there for my family. My so called creative juices were being overtaken by chemicals and radio active stuff so I could stay alive. The creativity would have to die.

There is no whiteboard for cancer, no way you can wipe away all the bad and scary things that are written about you in Doctors offices, hospitals and pharmacies. Life doesn't work that way. But maybe that's a good thing. Because, maybe, just maybe, someone researching or studying or just looking over your information will get a step closer to finding a cure for all cancers. Any cancer. Then we can go up to the whiteboard and write the word cancer.

And then wipe it away.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This Is Only A Test

Tomorrow is a big day. It's time for my 6-month scan. For me, these are days I feel fear and hope. Strange combination, I know. Marcia told me after I had my first scan that she would dread the test days. The uncertainty. The anxiety. The million thoughts that went through her head before the test. I know exactly what she means.

This is not only a scan for me. This is scan for a lot of people. Teresa. Adam, Ryan, Travis & Kaity. The work family. My parents. My friends.They all will go through it with me in one way or another. Even the guy at the parking garage, the guy with the name I don't even attempt to spell let alone try to say. I see him every day, Monday thru Friday. He always asks me how I'm doing. I always tell him straight up. Today he told me he would pray for me. I told him I need all the prayers I can get. He told me I'm going to be alright.

You never realize how many people you touch in a day, a week or a lifetime. I've been amazed at the tremendous amount of love, well wishes and support I've received from so many people. There's no way on Earth I can ever tell them how much it has helped me get through each and every day. But I will try. I will share. (I do share, sometimes maybe a little too much.) Because I feel what is left unspoken is a waste of an opportunity to connect with people. To let people know, hey, we're all human here. We can talk to each other. We can learn from each other. We can acknowledge that there are other people in the world around us. It's OK to smile. It's OK to be yourself. UBU. Cool.

Living in the DC area for the past 14 years has been very different for me and how I was raised. I haven't found the strong friendships that I found while living in Los Angeles. People are not as open, as friendly. Say what you want about LA, but overall the people are much more open, much more accepting, much more free thinking. Maybe the government jobs have a lot to do with how people act. I don't know.

I do know that having come face-to-face with head & neck cancer and skin cancer this past year has shown me who my true friends are, who are the people that really care about more than themselves. You know who you are. You are loved. You will be with me forever. You have passed the test. Not mine. The true test of what a person is made of.

That's the only test that matters.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What's The Plan

I looked back at my journal today. I landed on the 8/8/07 entry, the day after I found out I had cancer. "I will NOT let this cancer beat me. I am going to be an advocate in the cure for cancer. Bet on me to be the voice. The voice of a cancer SURVIVOR." That's what I wrote. That was the start of the plan.

Plans are funny things, ya know? You can make all the plans you want, write them up, put them in a power point presentation, tell them to anyone who will listen 'cause damn it we have a plan here we gotta stick to. You have to have a plan to make it real, right? Plans have structure. Focus. Commitment. They are written. Revised. Approved. We make plans to make plans. (This is starting to sound like a George Carlin routine.)

Got plans for the weekend? Have you made plans to get married? What's the plan for me? What's the Master Plan? Did you plan on that happening? Did I plan on one day having cancer? Hell no. There's no planning for that. You don't ever think of that. That happens to other people. Not me.

So much for making plans. Whatever was so important before, just got the life choked of it. All other plans are put aside. Time to make new ones. Time to make the true Master Plan––beat cancer. Beat it into submission. As Cap would say, "kick it's ass."

I remember my family's reaction when I told them I was not ready to die. I am going to beat this. There's a greater purpose for me. I don't know what it is yet, but I know it's out there somewhere and I need time to find it out. I was looking into the eyes of my family, trying to convince them that I'm going to be OK. It's gonna be hard on all of us. But I will not let cancer beat me. This was now a competition. And I hate to lose. Losing was not an option. As Al Davis would say, Just Win, Baby. They weren't buying it––at least that's what their eyes said to me. They believed me, but this is cancer not the league championship at the local Optimist Club. We know too many people, too many family members, who fought. And lost.

This was the biggest news my family had ever had. Bigger than the "we're moving 2800 miles across country" bomb I dropped on them in 1994. Bigger than anything. We needed something just as big. We needed something to get us through this huge life-changing event.

We needed a plan. The one I started on 8/8/07. I plan on seeing it through.