Knight in the morning
It felt a little cold as I slowly spread the gel on my face. It was nothing too shocking -- it never really is, or was. Well maybe, when I did it for the first time, when I was a young teenager. Yes today I have decided to shave. I'm going to reclaim my facial landscape, leaving only the familiar goatee. On this day I approached the task with deep thought.
Before this journey began the daily ritual of shaving was nothing more than a mild nuisance (I'm sure many guys would agree). However, today's chore I realized was so much more. I equate this shave in a small way, to a moth coming out of hibernation. I have cocooned long enough. For now, I have been blessed with a new beginning. Today's activity was in preparation for my return to work.
Yes, the doctors have given me the green light to get on with my life and head back to CTV. It will be a slow integration over the next few weeks, but I'm looking forward to it -- and it feels great.
I haven't manicured my mug since this all began. Oh sure, I've done the odd trim with the clippers so I wouldn't look like Grizzly Adams, but other than that, I just let it grow. It started months ago because my doctors had asked that I not shave, to avoid risk of an infection during chemo. After that, it just became easier. Not to mention, as I see it now, it has given me something else to look forward to.
On this occasion, I stood there looking at myself in the mirror and had to acknowledge that I am a different person. Not just emotionally, but physically too. I have never grown a full beard before, I'm also slimmer -- dropping about 15 pounds. My bathroom scale says I weigh pretty much what I did when I was in college. (I'm certainly not complaining about that -- except that all my clothes are now a size, if not 2, too big!!).
With a coat of shave gel spread across the lower half of my face, it wasn't long before I came to the conclusion that I was doing this all wrong. (Hey, I told you I have never grown a beard before.) Apparently it was too thick -- after 3 strokes, the razor was clogged up like a lawnmower would be during the first cut after summer vacation. I had to wash it all off, trim it down with the clippers, then take the razor back at it. A few minutes later, and one minor nick, there he was, what seemed like a new person staring at me from the other side of the mirror. A better person? I don't know -- maybe? A more appreciative, and focused one, yes, definitely.
My newly shaved face will return to the airwaves on the morning of Thursday October 21st (my first day back at work). I'll be doing my regular beat, the news updates during Canada Am, starting at 6:55, followed by CTV News at noon. I'm a little nervous about it all, but I don't know why.
Actually, that's not entirely true -- there are several reasons. To start, I feel like people will "see" me differently. Partly, I guess, because not all of my thinned out hair has yet returned, and it likely won't, but it's really not that bad. The truth is, I'm not quite sure I'm ready to wear that "survivor" hat. I have always disliked the terms "fighting" or "battling," when it comes to this disease. I say it respectfully, but to me, it suggests that it's a challenge you could lose. I've always preferred saying "getting treatment" for …
There are so many, many people, that have had, and will have, to endure much more traumatic treatments than I. Yes, sadly, not all of them will be successful. As I have said many times before, I feel blessed for many reasons.
On average, if healthy, we can expect to celebrate hopefully close to 80 Birthdays. Think about that: 80. I hate to simplify the beauty of life to just a few numbers, especially considering of course there are no guarantees. Nevertheless, as I have learned through this journey, it’s what you do with those 29,000-plus days that counts.
I think it's likely something that is difficult to fully appreciate, unless you have dealt directly with a life changing situation like this. I know that, because 6 months ago, that was me. You hear about someone's adversity, hopefully you sympathize, offer compassion (which is a wonderful thing for so many reasons), and for a moment you reflect. But, I don't think we really absorb the magnitude of it, or learn from it. Does that indirect experience translate into a conscious change that we carry into our own life?
I think more often than not, it doesn't -- until we become a part of the equation. I'm not judging anyone, I'm only sharing what I think and have learned. I truly believe it's important. It doesn't mean you need to live a life like the Dalai Lama, for most of us, that's not realistic. Maybe instead we all try to be more in tune with what is precious in life and realign things a little?
How many of us, in our very busy morning routine, take the time to wish our spouse, or kids, a good day -- tell them you love them before you all walk out the door? When was the last time you made an effort to reach out to a long-distance friend, or relative? How many times have we all said, "we'll have to get together sometime soon"? Does that "sometime" ever happen? Again, I'm not judging anyone, it's just that these types of little things have become much more in focus for me. As we all know, there is only one certainty in life, and that is - we all, at some point, will die. Grasp and acknowledge what ever blessings you have been given and then explore and discover more.
I will continue to visit my oncologists, and other doctors quite regularly now to monitor my progress. Today everything looks good, but is it really gone? I hope so. Will it come back? I don't know. But, I also don't know if a tire will fly off a big rig on the 401 and hit my car. Experience from others tell me that this feeling of uncertainty will eventually fade as the months become years. In the meantime, I plan on keeping on, keeping on.
I haven't figured out what to do about my blog. I'd like to keep it going, but I'm not sure of all the particulars at this point. It may be continued on a different website. I promise to update you regularly on anwarknight.com as well as Twitter and Facebook. However until then, a big thank you to the CTV Web Team. They have been so kind, encouraging and accommodating, during all the updates and technical tweaks. Thanks Guys!
I also need to express a heartfelt thank you the fantastic team at Princess Margaret Hospital. Dr. Kukreti, Dr. Wadhwa, Dr. Lau and of course, Dr. Gospodarowicz. The hospital is simply one of the best on the planet, and I am blessed to have this incredible team taking care of me. Adding to that, I am so very grateful for my family and friends, who I will continue to embrace and thank privately.
And of course, I want to thank you, the viewers and readers. You have re-ignited the torch of kindness. It’s something that likely many of us have thought was extinguished years ago. We are quite regularly reminded of the, shall we say "not so good", members of society. The random acts of selfishness, violence, and disrespect. From day one, you have extended an unbelievable show of support, love and friendship, to a stranger -- a guy who simply tells you whether it will be cold or warm, wet or dry.
I have received messages and cards from across the GTA, the province and even from across the globe: Personal stories from others who have dealt with this disease, words of encouragement from courageous people like a 13-year-old boy who was successfully treated with a brain tumour when he was 10, to other lymphoma patients, both long-term survivors and newly diagnosed. All of you have surrounded me like an extended family.
I don't know how to thank you. I really don't know what to say. You have helped me more than you will ever, ever know. Lastly, for those who are dealing with cancer, yes, it's never easy -- but no matter what, never, ever, give up. As Christopher Reeve once said, if you choose hope, anything is possible. God Bless.
See you on Thursday....
Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.