Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Entering the Land of I Don't Know

This morning I woke up and realized that I was way wrong. The node in my neck is getting bigger. The night before I wrote on my blog that I thought it wasn't because it wasn't growing outward. But I felt this morning that it is growing sideways. It's butting up against my throat now. 

By the afternoon the doctor called and told me the Morning Me was right and the Last Night Me was way wrong. The tests show the cancer is back in two sides of my neck. 

What that means is I've entered into the Land of I Don't Know. This is a place where nobody really has the answers and you're on your own to find them. What medicine should I try? "Well, I don't know." Will it work? "Well that depends." How will I react to this treatment? "Well, we're not really sure." 

The only job available in the Land of I Don't Know is the job of staying alive and getting treatment. And this job is hard. I have to make sure all the paperwork is shuttled from hospital to hospital. I have to get shuttled from hospital to hospital. And I have to, in a sense, be my own doctor. From here on out, doctors only make suggestions because they just don't know anything works. And because there aren't a lot of Hodgkin's relapsers alive out there, there aren't that many doctors who know how to treat them.

From here on out I'll be getting traditional chemo treatments along with experimental treatments. The key is to find something that works for a while. When that runs out, then I need to find something else. There are promising treatments out there but nothing that's a wonder drug. I'll have to fight through side effects and hope drugs take. 

By now you may be asking how long I have. I can tell you that I feel good. My neck hurts but that's about it. The doctor told me it is a matter of years and not months. 

By far the bravest citizen in this Land is my wife. What do I do about my wife? What do I tell her? How do I keep making her happy? What kind of future can we have? What should we both tell the kids? Welcome to the Land of I Don't Know. 


  1. In 1946, Teddy Ballgame and the Redsox had the best record in baseball with 104 wins yet they lost the 7th game in the World Series to walk away without the ring.

    In 1967, I was one year old and Yaz replaced Teddy in left field. A return trip to the World Series but once again, they just missed it, losing the 7th game.

    In 1975, my first memory of a World Series was when the Big Red Machine of Cincinnati played the Bosox in one of the best World Series ever. Despite playing tough, once again a heart breaking loss resulted in another 7th game defeat.

    Of course, they did it again in 1986 while playing the Mets. Although Buckner let a few buses, a train, and a slow roller go through his legs, it was a team effort and the whole team lost the World Series. Yes - again in the wrenching 7th game.

    Michael, while those were important games for many people, I know what you are going through is not a game; far from it but it was the best analogy I could think of.

    You see, I too felt cheated, hurt, thought that bad luck always fell upon me. In some ways, I still do. But I still try to stay positive whenever possible because anything is possible, regardless of the past or what the future appears to be. There is always hope because nothing is certain, nothing is written in stone. People can change, situations can change, obstacles can be overcome. Some harder than others but they can still be achieved.

    You face yet another obstacle in your life. You can fight it again and you will fight it again. Know that you have the support of everyone who knows you. Shall you need something, just say the word and we'll be fighting over who is fortunate enough to be the one to help you out. All of us who attended the Herlehy Helper were HAPPY, truly happy to be there. It wasn't just a fund raiser, it wasn't just a good reason to get together. We all felt good because despite the unfortunate reason for bringing us together that night, it allowed US to do something when many of us didn't know what to do.

    Just say the word. You need a sitter, we'll be there. You need money, we'll get it together. You need a shoulder, you have plenty to pick from. We can't fight the battle for you but we are on your sideline ready to come in at your beckoned call. You don't need to hear it because deep down you already know it - but I'll say it again: you're a very good person who brings out the best in people when they are around you. We all would be honored to help out in your next battle. Game on - let's beat this fricking thing once and for all.

    So the Redsox continually broke my heart. They kept on teasing and teasing and teasing but always losing despite their fierce effort to win the grand prize. So yet again, in 2004 the Redsox had a great year but their hopes were all but gone when they were losing in the 9th inning of Game 4, down three games to zero to the frickin' arch nemis, the evil empire, the Yankees. My Dad had already turned off the TV and went to bed.

    You never know when your prayers will be answered. Incredibly, the Redsox would keep fighting to win not only that one game, but to do what had never been done before and come back from a 3-0 deficit to win both that series but the whole enchillada, The World Frickin Series.

    Never give up because maybe, just maybe, your final goal, that final prize is just around the corner. In 2004, it was the Redsox' turn to finally get that prize. It was their time. They never gave up and it was the best feeling in the world.

    This is your time. These doctors haven't said you can't beat it, they simply don't know. What they don't know is Michael Herlehy like we do. You've done all you could to beat this thing before and you can do it again.

    Be strong my friend and please let us assist you in any way you need help. You are the General (sorry, Sherri) and we're your soldiers. Tell us what to do and we'll do it. You the man.

  2. Life is what happens while you're making other plans.
    John Lennon
    Do not underestimate the power of treating yourself to what you
    yourself believe is important.
    Victoria Moran in 'Lit From Within'
    Hope is like a road in the country; there wasn’t ever a road, but
    when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.
    Lin Yutang
    Spirit is that vast stillness which is behind all created things.
    Paramahansa Yogananda
    Prayer is not an old woman's idle amusement. Properly
    understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of
    Mahatma Gandhi
    Anger is the real destroyer of our good human qualities; an
    enemy with a weapon cannot destroy these qualities, but anger
    can. Anger is our real enemy.
    His Holiness the Dalai Lama
    It never occurred to me to doubt myself.
    Katharine Hepburn
    Have patience with all things, but first of all with yourself.
    St. Francis de Sales
    There is a light in this world, a healing spirit
    more powerful than any darkness we may encounter.
    We sometime lose sight of this force
    when there is suffering, and too much pain.
    Then suddenly,
    the spirit will emerge
    through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call
    and answer in extraordinary ways.
    Mother Teresa
    Many of us spend our whole lives
    Running from feeling
    With the mistaken belief
    That you cannot bear the pain.
    But you have already borne the pain.
    What you have not done
    Is feel all you are beyond that pain.
    Kahlil Gibran
    Your work now is to find your fire and rekindle it - and then to
    let it burn.
    Oprah Winfrey
    Mountains cannot be surmounted except by winding paths.
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart
    don't know how to laugh either.
    Golda Meir
    Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate
    in eternity.
    Edwin Hubbel Chapin
    Every blade of grass has an angel that bends over it and
    whispers, 'Grow! Grow!'
    The Talmud
    I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the
    astonishing Light of your own Being.
    We cannot control the wind, but we have the power to adjust the sails.
    Chinese Proverb
    Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.
    Maori Proverb

    Michael...........God bless you!

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  4. Michael,

    Had to delete the last one in light of your advertising standards, had a small typo.

    This is an unexpected setback, but you will overcome it with flying colors.

    As Glenno stated the Red Sox fought through and finmally won in 04 and for good measure also 07. We even got our own 88 year drought over with the White Sox in 05.

    Stay the course you WILL beat this thing.