For the last several months, I’ve followed the open sea journey of Rich Wilson. He is the only American and the oldest entrant (58) in the Vendee Globe 2008. Some call the VG the Mt. Everest of sailboat racing. The competition goes around the world from France to France with Antarctica to starboard. It’s the ultimate in single-handed endurance: 100+ days, 25,000 miles, solo, and non-stop.
Sailing a 60’ yacht alone through some of the world’s most dicey ocean passages presents opportunity aplenty for things to go wrong. Rich completed the race on March 10th. He didn’t win outright; it took him 121 days during which time he battled fatigue, sleeplessness, mechanical breakdowns, and uncooperative weather. There was seldom, forgive the pun, smooth sailing. So, for a cancer patient, what’s not to like?
I don’t sail, yet I admire Rich for this crazy endeavor. The journey, not the destination, is something each of us with a chronic illness or injury learns to accept. Though we all have a support group, essentially, we navigate the unpredictable waters of cancer alone. Often, loved ones buoy us up when the seas get rough. But, there is an internal journey, as well, and with that bit of metaphysical sailing, we are on our own.
Recently, my youngest son took me out on his snowmobile. Isaac pursues adventure with passion, not unlike Rich Wilson. My son makes a living doing what he loves, jumping off cliffs, skiing the dangerous lines of high altitude ridges, and shredding knee deep powder in the tight quarters of alpine forests. He derives his livelihood primarily from behind the camera in ski videos. He has found a way to follow his dream.
Often, his ventures take him outside the boundaries of resorts, hence, his need for a snowmobile. During our day trip, his dogs provided the bulk of the entertainment. Their enthusiasm for vigorous activity is contagious. We were only out for an hour, but the dogs must have run 50 miles, most of that in circles. I’ve always been more of a cat person. But my cinematographer son, when he’s not traveling overseas to film, makes time to look in on me. He balances his somewhat reckless lifestyle with compassionate regard for his Mom and Dad. Therefore, I’m included on activities that usually involve his goofy companions, Toby and Bruce.
At my age, most adventures occur vicariously through the exploits of thrill seekers such as Rich Wilson or my sons. I’m content to observe and comment. Accordingly, it disturbed me this week when a friend said she did not want to visit my blog for fear of learning I’d slipped out of remission. Obviously, she saw my encounter with cancer as too hazardous.
The current stability of my disease allows me to think positively about the future. Myeloma, when it progresses or relapses, does so gradually. A rogue wave of abnormal protein will not swamp me in my sleep. Peering into the workings of my mind as I live with cancer should not frighten anyone. Mr. Wilson’s solitary circumnavigation of the globe and Isaac’s leaps off ledges scare me, but I’m not afraid to look because they accept the danger with joy in their hearts. Remember, I get to write about this. That’s my thrill.
So, please don’t fret for me. I’m having a good time, even when I’m not. When and if I start taking on water, know that I will be bailing to the final moment with a joie de vivre equal to the romps of Toby and Bruce.