Friday, October 28, 2011

Sorry, Roberto, but this whole cancer/back surgery thing is your fault, too

I have an announcement about my cancer. It's Roberto Luongo's fault.
Seriously. If he's going to get all the blame for how sad sack the Vancouver Canucks have started this season, then I'm tagging him for my Solitary Plasmacytoma tumour. He's probably behind the eight back surgeries and the six months in the hospital, too.
I blame him for proliferation of singing shows on television and for the fact that I wasn't 100 per cent certain that proliferation was the right word there and I had to Google it. I blame him for Google, Twitter and Tweet and IPad and all those techie terms that I feel a little goofy everytime I say. I blame him for Kenny Loggins not having anything to do with the new Footloose.
I blame him for my yearning for Pumpkin Spice Latte. I blame him for long division. No. Scratch that. I blame him for math in general.
And, before we get too ahead of ourselves, I bet he's the guy behind Impark. It's got to be him.
I'd like to blame him for why Crush The Tumour With Humour (CTTWH) has been idle of late, but I can't, and only in part because it would give more ammo to the lunatic fringe who think the above four paragraphs makes complete sense. (The Impark one may have merit, mind you.)
I haven't been writing because I've been busy trying to get better. Still at the pool four or five mornings a week. Still walking lots "free style" -- my rock star home physio Paula Peres has me up to 1.6 kilometres, and that includes varying surfaces and inclines. It's very strange. Paula will take Evander (my cane) away and my body will tense right up. She says it's a matter of my body not understanding how hard I need to work to do things now. She has a point. When I go Evander-less around the house these days, I'm not tense at all.
(TIME OUT: You keep hearing that Luongo is terrible. Really? Keep hearing that the Canucks should trade him. Really? Team is coming off their best season ever and he was a major reason why and he's being lambasted and lampooned for a poor start. Wasn't that the lowest scoring Stanley Cup final ever? No one wants to talk about that.)
Paula's happy enough in fact she's only seeing me once a week, down from twice. That has to be a sign of progress.
I'm also working between 20 and 30 hours a week. I did my first Vancouver Giants practice "free style," on Thursday morning, and survived the ordeal.
I even went to a Canuck game with Carol-Ann and sat in the stands, rather than the press box. Lots of stairs to be scaled, lots of people to navigated around.
I'm sure I was the same way before THE CANCER, but I can't believe how little people pay attention to folks with canes and walkers and even wheel chair.  Getting cut-off and or tail gated.... it drives my poor Carol-Ann crazy.
We did have a good time at the game, for what it's worth. I would have liked it more if Roberto played, though, to be honest.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Talk show: speech on cancer at Interesting Vancouver goes better than expected

I survived my speech.
I got through my 10 minutes at Interesting Vancouver, the self-professed multi-disciplinary conference with no singular theme, and even received some applause.
I wouldn't have been close, in my mind, without my Carol-Ann and our good buddy Bif Naked. (Shameless name drop.) I was freaked all day about it, and Carol-Ann busted her butt to try to keep me calm. At one point, she said, "If you get in trouble, just signal to me and I'll come up there with you." Now, Carol-Ann hates being singled out. She hates to be front and centre. She didn't sign up for this conference. She would have rescued me, though. That's part of why she's freakin' adorable.
We got to the event, which was at the Museum of Vancouver, and I was leading off the second half of speakers after intermission. Sure enough, the first half of speakers rocked it. Lots of prep time spent. Guys with slides. Guys with dance moves. One of them, I swear, had the Pips. (Gladys Knight's back-up singers...oh, I'm old.)
I had a bunch of bullet points on one scrap of paper. I had run over the first few sentences in my mind a few times, but I hadn't gotten anywhere close to a full run through. I had no idea what 10 minutes felt like.
I told Carol-Ann and Bif, "I'm so outclassed."
Bif gave me "Steve," and then a long pause, which is something she picked up from Carol-Ann and is basically short-hand for "concentrate on what I'm about to say to you, you big, friggin' goofball or I'm going to sock you one."
Then she continued.
"You're talking about cancer," she continued. "That's real. You say 'cancer,' and the room will go silent.' They'll be focussed on your every word."
So it came my turn. I'm limped up there, trusty Evander (The Cane) by my side, and I started with, "Hey, I didn't fall down...first step complete."
Out from the crowd came a couple of polite laughs.
Then I gave them, in my best radio voice: "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, childen of all ages...I'm Steve Ewen, and I'm very excited to be here."
Pronounced pause for effect.
"I'm excited to be here," I continued, "because I've always wanted to stand in front of a group of people and say, "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages. Next, off my bucket list, is hopping into a cab, pointing at a passing vehicle and saying, 'Quick, follow that car.'"
Pockets of laughter.
"I'm also excited to be here because I was diagnosed with cancer a year ago and this is my first chance to try to give back to all the people who were so supportive of my wife and I."
There were a few seconds of silence while people processed what I said, and then a more passionate round of applause.
Bif was right. As soon as the word, "cancer," came up, people dialled right in.
They were great. They laughed at all the right spots. They chortled at, "Hey, is that a tumour in my T-2 or are you just happy to see me?" They let me get emotional about Carol-Ann. At one point, I blurted out, "You guys are great...I'm taking you all home with me."
I was sore and tired, so we bolted right after and missed the last bunch of speakers.
So, basically, there's a chance I might do another speech sometime. The odds of telling too many of you beforehand, though, still aren't good.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Falling down, talking up: yet another chapter in this crazy cancer/back surgery rehab

The one-year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis was Sunday.
I gave myself some banged up knees and some wacky stress.
The knees first.
I had my first fall since leaving GF Strong in May on Thursday. And, yes, it's a good thing. I had been wondering how exactly it would feel and how I would react and whether I would be able to get up on my own.
Luckily, I was with our ace at-home physio, Paula Peres. We were out for a walk -- I'm up to about a kilometre and a half "free style" -- when she had me do a pivot and walk backwards. Well, I pivoted my big old booty off the sidewalk into the grass and slipped and kissed the dirt and muck. I was embarrassed, but didn't panic. Paula was worried about whether I hurt myself, but she didn't flip out either.
And, of course, when we told Carol-Ann, she didn't get too excited at all. It's hard to find something Carol-Ann isn't good at right now. ("I fell," I said. "That's exciting," Carol-Ann said. "How did it feel?")
As for the stress, I'm doing a 10-minute speech on my "situation," tonight for Interesting Vancouver, a newfangled seminar. I'm doing it for free, which makes me feel better, because there's exactly no  expectation that I'm going to be good. There are nine or 10 others speakers. Some of them have slides -- the only pictures I have are of my wound. How do you think that might play? Yeah, I didn't think so either.
I've got some bullet points written out, but I'm largely going to try to wing it, thinking that will be less stressfully. We'll see. But I am considerably freaked out.

PS Gary -- call me.