Last week George got hit hard by a reality check. He was out mountain biking with his Bikes-or-Beers group on a somewhat technical trail. They all got up to the top of the loop after a steep climb, and then were heading downhill at a breakneck pace when the guy in front of George caught a pedal on a rock and took a spectacular fall. According to eyewitnesses, Jay came out of his cleats and landed on his shoulder, while his bike went flying eight feet into the air. They all had been egging each other on and were not exactly biking in the conservative Grandma fashion that George promised me he would stick to. I felt really bad for Jay - he will be out the rest of the season and will require shoulder surgery. I also realized how easily that could have been George, and what a world of trouble he'd be in if he had that kind of injury. First of all, his hemoglobin and white blood cell counts are both low at this point, and so his healing ability has really slowed down. Second of all, the injury could interfere with his ability to get his chemo at full dosages on schedule. Everything we have been told by the doctor is that you need to get "full dosages, on time" to have the best success rate at getting rid of the cancer for good. Having an injury that requires surgery could completely jeopardize the whole program that could ultimately put his life in danger.
I got so panicked by the whole thing that I read George the riot act. I told him, "I realize that you're a handful, but you're MY handful, and I want you in my life for a long time to come!" I think he finally got it, because he promised not to go mountain biking with the guys any more this summer. And the thing is, I realized what he was giving up. Even at my pokey pace, I still get a thrill and an adrenaline rush from mountain biking that just isn't there with road biking. It becomes the thing you look forward to most each week, the thing that makes you forget about work, problems and all of the "shoulds" that we have in our lives. As George says, "life becomes very simple" - you are just focused on making the next turn, avoiding the big rocks, and staying on your bike. And at its finest moments it feels like flying.
So, I knew how hard it was for George to agree to give it up for the summer. But he did it because I asked him to. This is just another example of the kind of strength and courage it takes to go through this disease and its treatment. You do things that are really, really, hard and you do them for the people who love you as well as for yourself.
The thing is, it's all relative. For some people getting chemo, just walking down to the mailbox is a big deal. For George, admitting that he can't do EVERYTHING right now is a big deal.
Just for the record, he still has no problem going faster than me!