Biopsy: December 8th

Diagnosed: December 14th

Surgery: December 27th

Confirmed Stage 3: (it had spread to lymph nodes): January 7th

PET Scan: January 21st

Immunotherapy Infusions Began: February 3rd

Every four weeks for a year I get a full lab of bloodwork, a consult with my oncologist over my lab results, and an appointment immediately after that consult for an immunotherapy treatment. For my fourth, last week, my oncologist added on an ultrasound to check on my lymph nodes. At six months and twelve months, I will go through another full round of scans.

Recently, I was still able to have a vacation with the full support of my oncologist, dermatologist, and surgeon. Wearing an SPF 50 shirt, slathered in SPF 50 sun screen, wearing a wide-brimmed sun hat, I spent a week in the Virgin Islands with Karla. I spent most of my time in the shade, but I did go in the ocean, walk along the beach, etc. We enjoyed ourselves but with precautions--beach time started at 8AM and ended well before noon most days. We planted ourselves in the shade of the tree line...once the sun moved almost overhead and the shadows were disappearing, we left.

From the American Cancer Society:

"The rates of melanoma have been rising rapidly over the past few decades, but this has varied by age.

Melanoma is more than 20 times more common in whites than in African Americans. Overall, the lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 2.6% (1 in 38) for whites, 0.1% (1 in a 1000) for Blacks, and 0.6% (1 in 167) in Hispanics.

Melanoma is more common in men overall, but before age 50 the rates are higher in women than in men.

The risk of melanoma increases as people age. The average age of people when it is diagnosed is 65. But melanoma is not uncommon even among those younger than 30. In fact, it's one of the most common cancers in young adults (especially young women)."

I started reading Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, by Oliver Burkeman. Only in the early portion of the text, I am feeling what Burkeman is laying out.

We have collectively permitted our employers (world-wide) not only into our homes but into every moment of our lives. Is work email attached to your phone? Do you toss and turn and wake up from the anxiety of unaddressed work because there is simply not enough time in a work day to accomplish the demands placed on you? Are you expected to make it work, to find the time, to steal the time, to do a little more, to go above and know the language in your own field...

However one expands the time available for will fill it.

Stay an hour longer? It will be scheduled for you.

Work over the weekend? It isn't really to catch up because something else will rush in and fill the space you, one could theoretically work every weekend from home and never, ever, catch up so that the weekend is yours again.

When we whine and bitch that we do not have time at work to accomplish the basics of our work, we are essentially only aggravating ourselves. Time never comes back to you.

Time has been hijacked unlike anything recent, previous generations experienced. Well, maybe they experienced it, but the speed and tenacity continues to escalate to the degree that even when we are efficient at our jobs we expand the space for a greater flow of work to come out way (as in the case of email).

Why wouldn't a boss expect you to do more if you are able to tread water under the current conditions.

In every industry, if we work for someone there seems to be this embedded forfeiture of time outside of the workday...and a systemic structure of never, ever, catching up...of employees always being behind as more gets stacked on.

Unless, of course, we shift...reprogram...our mindsets....

My first exposure to the concept of a writer/creator/artists being part of an actively supportive and encouraging group came to me in my 40s. I read Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the The Inklings, by Diana Pavlac Glyer.

A major thread through the book is the practical usefulness of praise and encouragement in lieu of any kind of judgment. Be a mentor, not a judge, when someone shares the outcomes of their creative processes with you. It aligns with a text I read years prior, Writing Without Teachers, by Peter Elbow. Fragments of this concept continues to surface the more I read memoir.

For as beautiful and fluid Prince's handwriting could be, what I think Prince is driving at here is that Grace and encouragement is a lost art in need of resurrection.