While I was researching activities for Sara’s 40th, I remembered the quote “Do one thing every day that scares you”. It’s incorrectly attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, though I think she was a pretty awesome lady anyway.
I did some digging and found that it was coined by a columnist from the Chicago Tribune named Mary Schmich. She wrote a graduation commencement back in 1997 and I think it’s absolutely brilliant. Full text below:
Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young.
Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out, some world-weary pundit eager to pontificate on life to young people who’d rather be Rollerblading. Most of us, alas, will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns, but there’s no reason we can’t entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates.
I encourage anyone over 26 to try this and thank you for indulging my attempt.Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97:
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.
Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing every day that scares you.
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.
Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.
Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.
Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.
Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.
Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.
Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.
Respect your elders.
Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.
Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.
But trust me on the sunscreen.
We lost our dear Pearson on Friday, May 26th, 2017 at 11:10am. I bought him as a puppy birthday gift for Sara back in 2005. Pearson had been with us through thick and thin ever since.
He stopped eating on Tuesday(not even Shake Shack!) and I brought him into the clinic on Thursday. He spent the night in the ICU, as they tried to rehydrate him and spur his appetite. When I arrived on Friday morning at 7:30am, he was in very rough shape and after discussing it with his Vet, we both felt it best to relieve his suffering. While his lymph nodes were showing improvement, consensus was that the cancer had spread to his stomach/intestine. I absolutely regret him not spending his last night with us and not euthanizing him at home. He hated vet hospitals. 🙁
At least Sara and I were with him when he passed. It was very peaceful and it broke my heart to see him go. He was a link to our past, he was family, he was unconditional love and he was a reminder of our own mortality. A painful reminder to always live in the present.
Some might say that he was just a dog, but he was one of my best friends.
I’m very grateful we got an extra year together while he received treatment… and he took it like a trooper. He didn’t seem sick at all, right up until the very end.
I’ll cherish our 12 years. We had a pretty good run.
Pearson Anhorn. March 21st, 2005 – May 26th, 2017
I’ll miss my old friend. Rest in peace, little buddy.
Dark, solemn, rainy, overcast. But, this blog post helped. A little.
We’re waiting for Hillary’s concession speech at work.
Just a quick note on our current photography gear.
Sara is still running her tiny, awesome, easy and insanely capable Sony Rx100m3.
I’ve purchased a new Panasonic G85, to compliment my older Panasonic FZ1000. Most of my shots on instagram are now with the G85 rig. Along with the body, I’m using a 12-35mm Panasonic F/2.8, a Panasonic 35-100mm F/2.8, a Panasonic 25mm F/1.7 prime, a Panasonic 42.5mm F1.7 prime and the mighty Leica 100-400mm F/4-6.3.
Pearson was diagnosed with terminal lymphoma on April 1, 2016. Somehow, we’ve made it through 4 full chemotherapy cycles in ~6 months. It’s been a lot of added stress , financial cost and gross diarrhea, but we finally got some good news yesterday.
“No evidence of residual lymphoma microscopically.”
What a relief. We weren’t sure how we were going to continue his treatment, as he’s actually finished the normal protocol.
He had only reached partial remission on chemotherapy alone, so I think the addition of the lymphoma vaccine might have done the trick. I’m very glad we took the chance on treatment AND that our pet insurance covered everything.
We have no idea how long this will last, but he goes back in a month to check everything out once again. He’s getting a shake shack cheeseburger this weekend for being such a good sport.
Pearson took his first treatment cycle like a boss. He’s doing well and continues to be his awesomely annoying self (howling, stealing food and counter surfing). I think we should change his breed to “f_ucker spaniel!” 😉
All of his lymph nodes have returned to a normal size except for one that is only slightly enlarged and we have this week off for treatment… he goes back in next Thursday for the second cycle.
We also just found out about a clinical trial for a vaccine that might either double his remission time(to 2+ years) or potentially cure it entirely(slim chance but it’s there). It’s based out of Philly and would be a bit of a drive for 4 shots over 2 months. But I’m seriously thinking about it.
This week marks the end of his original 4-6 week life expectancy prognosis, without treatment.
*UPDATE – June 3rd, 2016: His lymph nodes didn’t shrink at all after the doxrubicin and week off. :/ This means he didn’t reach remission in the first cycle, and this is generally a bad thing for survival projections. But, the nodes shrunk again after vincristine last week, so we proceeded with cytoxan yesterday and will continue the front line CHOP protocol until he stops responding. This complicates things for the vaccine, but we’ll find out soon if he meets the requirements.
Our high-maintenance, yet very loving little cocker spaniel was diagnosed with Lymphoma quite by chance last Friday, April 1, 2016. He was having a skin tag removed and our vet detected some enlarged lymph nodes. A quick biopsy and a few hours later, he was diagnosed with cancer. I’m devastated. Sara less so. The kids don’t really get it.
We staged it over the weekend and I met with an Oncologist yesterday to get the low-down. He’s Stage IIIa with no apparent organ, blood or urine signs of disease. All lymph for now. But, lymphoma is 100% fatal and moves very quickly.
If we do nothing, he dies in 4-6 weeks, despite showing no sign of disease as of today, outside of the lymph nodes.
We’ve taken another aspirate from the nodes to look into the flow cytometry of the cancer. T-cell has a worse prognosis. If it’s B-Cell, it’s highly treatable with low-does Chemo on the CHOP protocol. The Oncologist has given him an 80-90% chance of achieving temporary remission, given the variables. The average remission time is ~12 months, but some dogs make it less and some more.
BUT, the CHOP protocol requires weekly injections of some nasty chemicals for at least 8 weeks, and every other week after that for about 6 months. I’m waiting on the specifics from the Onco now. I’ve been assured by the vet that the dosage is very low as they aren’t trying to cure it like humans and that dogs rarely have side effects and live very well for that “year”.
However, he will still meet the same end. And he’s 11… no spring chicken. He’s also had a good life and hates visiting clinics.
The cost for chemo will run quite high through some specialists here in New York called Blue Pearl. ~$10k for treatment and luckily I splurged for pet insurance when we signed up for our own insurance in the US, in 2014. So out of pocket, we’re looking somewhere between $1500 and $3000 for treatment. No small feat, but very doable if we put our minds to it.
Sadly, we’ve dealt with more than our fair share of cancer in our family, so we’re all very jaded on the chemo prospect and the prognosis in general. Cancer is so very cruel and I’m heartbroken for my little guy.
Is chemo too harsh for our elder Pearson and too much stress/effort for our little family to endure, so far from home? Will I look back years down the road and regret not taking advantage of the tools at my feet for Pearson to live and enjoy life a little longer?
I don’t know what to do and my stomach is in knots. We’ve got a bunch of travel for work and vacation coming up and I feel like I’m stuck in a whirlwind of decisions I have to and cannot make.
The vet recommended we start the CHOP yesterday just in case we decide to proceed with chemo… to get the jump on the cancer before it invades his organs. So he’s had one injection so far – a little slow this morning, but he seems to be no worse for the wear.
A few lifetimes ago, we rescued a dog while living on a grape farm in Australia and ended up having to leave him behind. I made a vow that I’d do everything in my power to never abandon another dog.
*UPDATE: We have yet to hear back from the Oncologist on the phenotype Pearson is dealing with. Again, if its T-cell, it’s a lost cause and we will not pursue treatment. But we have tentatively decided to pursue chemo based on the list I’ll post below. Sara and I think long and hard about our decisions and really compliment each other well, with our differing opinions. As always, I think we’ve made the best decision at the time, given our resources and knowledge of what we’re facing. That’s all you can really ever hope for. I also wanted to reiterate, that my above post was not so much about the sadness of losing Pearson (which will be very sad, don’t get me wrong), but more about the feeling in your stomach when you have to make an important decision for a loved one (be it a person, dog or other pet) and the path is unclear. Will your decision cause more pain or less, is it the right call and how will it affect you and your family? Also, it’s tough weighing a decision against the general hopelessness that we all feel when dealing with cancer. Dogs aren’t humans and they don’t last very long, but we feel we at least owe Pearson a shot at dying an old man, on his own terms and after one hell of a summer. Life has taught us that you have play the hand you’re dealt, as best you can. We’ll make it memorable for all of us.
**Update: Confirmed B Phenotype. We proceed with chemo on Thursday the 14th at 9am.