birthday challenge
August 26, 2014 posted by

Cancer, Birthday Challenge, & Friends – Days 34 – 40

Cancer, Birthday Challenge, & Friends – Days 34 – 40

“All of a sudden I’m so popular. Maybe I should run for City Council.”
– Henry Chinowski

With my prognosis clear, and chemo scheduled, I decided to do two things: schedule a little physical test and let the world in on my situation. This turned into an unexpected-yet-extremely-inspiring week. My friends are awesome.

Three articles appeared during this stretch. Two by good friends, and one by Outside magazine that had nothing to do with anything but coincidence. I want to deconstruct that latter piece because, as tends to happen with major rags, it’s misleading. I’ll take that one separately. Today I’d like to highlight the former.

Anyone who reads this blog knows Denis. He’s been my right-hand man at Beachbody for the last 12 and a friend for a dozen more than that. We do a lot of stuff together so, I suppose, it’s no surprise he’d chronicle this adventure in his blog but it was touching nonetheless. And, of course, funny. Click the expert for the entire post.

Long time Nerd Herders out there are probably well aware of Steve Edwards, my mentor and long-time collaborator. More than anyone else, he’s the person who opened my eyes to the importance of helping others look after themselves. He’s why I work at Beachbody and he’s why the Nutrition Nerd blog exists. He’s why I ride my bike hundreds of miles a week like a Pee Wee Herman on crank. He’s pulled my butt out of a sling more times than I can recall. He’s my friend.

Spenser Tang-Smith is likely more obscure. Unless you follow birthday challenges you might not know our connection. We’ve been acquainted for years but only fairly-recently met, as Spenser and his girlfriend Vikki have taken the reigns of birthday challenge, reviving it as I write. They flew out last-minute to record my “chemo-challenge”, and summed it up in a great post, of which here’s a taste.

When we talked about the series, Steve’s piercing blue eyes went from 10 on the brightness scale to 11. He will turn 54 years old in November of this year, and his was to be the culminating episode in our series. With Jack LaLanne no longer around, Steve was the de facto godfather of BDCs, and how cool to have him doing a bunch of extreme shit in the Wasatch mountains to close out the series, to show us youngsters how it’s really done. 

Bonus: he was going to come out and support mine. I don’t know if it’s possible to convey how much of a dream come true this was for me. It’s like craving a stiff drink and stimulating conversation, and Winston Churchill shows up.

Steve had a lump in his armpit that a doctor said was a cyst. It’s worth pointing out that the lump was getting in the way of this “old” man doing one-arm pull-ups. After feeling some impingement during heel hooks, he visited another doctor and mentioned the lump. The lump was biopsied, and identified as that terrible ugly C-word. Heel hooks save lives, kids.

This is why he couldn’t come to my challenge.

So instead of his original epic challenge, “Wasatch Extreme,” the challenge was moved up to this past weekend, and toned down a bit. “I don’t want to go ‘inside-out’ before chemo,” he says. Only 54 mountain bike trails with 5,000 feet of elevation gain, 54 boulder problems, and 5 peaks. A rest day, if you will.

My “rest day” challenge capped an amazing, if stressful, week. As the gang left town and life got back to normal I was reminded of the importance of living in the now. My life’s been an amazing adventure. Great family. Great friends.  If it all ended tomorrow I can safely say that I’ve had more than my share of good days.

Not that anything of the sort is in the plans. Far from it. My friends constantly harass me about my over-the-top optimism but it’s how I prefer to live.  I see cancer as just another challenge. Hell, it’s a lot more survivable that many things I’ve squeaked out the other end of. Honestly, I’m actually psyched to delve into more unknown territory and see where it takes me. Cancer, let’s dance.

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