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Live for Today. Fight for Tomorrow.

As I write, this picture was taken almost exactly one year ago today. We had literally just picked up and moved to Utah, transferring hospitals, praying we would find a better situation for our family. Ryder was scheduled for what would turn out to be his last round of chemo to begin the following week, only halfway through the “recommended” (required would be a better word to use in most places) starting protocol. Knowing what was in store over the next week, we wanted to make the most of this day. I jumped online and found what sounded like a great hike right by Sundance Ski Resort, grabbed Ryder’s trusty backpack we had bought just shortly before the diagnosis, made our way up a scenic mountain road and were on the trail in no time. As we neared an incredible waterfall at the top, we pulled off to the side and snapped a picture. That moment would forever be captured in our hearts and from there our mantra, “live for today, fight for tomorrow” was born.

From that point on, the phrase became our unofficial motto and only made sense to have as the tagline for this site. I wanted to expand a bit on what these two conjoined phrases have meant to us, but also write about what they have not meant. As far as I’m concerned these words have been hijacked… and many cancer parents as a result have been given a warped view of what living and fighting should mean to them and their families. Especially fighting.

For us, living is not going on a trip to Disneyland, and then blowing our money on a similar destination a year down the line when we realize we’re still going through this and our kid hasn’t had any meaningful stimulation since. It’s not stocking up on movies and video games and tablets and any other way we can think of to be staring at a screen of some sort whenever possible in a subconscious attempt at slipping us all into some sort of comfortably numb existence hoping we make it out to the other side. It’s certainly not letting our kid have whatever fast food he wants (or any for that matter), I hear the M word the most… because the treatment’s been so rough he deserves it and besides that, “he just needs the calories however he’ll take them.” This absolutely cannot be living because these are not living foods, they are death foods. The phrase should be eating to live, not living to eat.

Living, for us, is blasting out to Michael Jackson or The Days by Avicii, or maybe Led Zeppelin’s Good Times Bad Times as Ryder wakes up every morning (we often switch over to classical later on, but always start out with something rockin’). It’s getting out into nature every chance we get. Whether throwing him into the backpack for a hike or a snowshoe outing, or the Chariot stroller for a bike ride or to go cross country skiing, or hopefully even downhill skiing now that he’s finally walking. And yes, I just listed off a bit of an initial investment in gear, but certainly much less than a full blown vacation somewhere and we definitely didn’t get it all at once. Now that we have all of this equipment, we get endless use out of it with Ryder’s daily quality of life and connection to the earth so much greater as a result. Besides, along with all the anti-cancer benefits that have been found associated with vitamin D (sunshine) lately, there have actually been numerous studies showing that for whatever reason time in the forest dramatically increases the number, and activity level, of a person’s natural killer cells!

Living is taking a walk around the neighborhood or a run with the Bob stroller somewhere close by if pressed for time. Or if we’re on an inpatient stay, finding whatever little foot path or sidewalk might be available around the hospital and at the very least busting the kid out, IV bag pole and all, for an hour every day. Long drives to local tourist destinations or some little middle of nowhere town we’ve never been to before just to check it out are always great. Keeping a close eye on local events calendars so we’re always sure to check out whatever little fair or rodeo or outdoor concert happens to be going on, also makes for great living.

The point I’m trying to make is that we haven’t allowed this situation to suck us down into some miserable existence reminiscent of slavery to the cancer and all that goes along with it. Did we get the diagnosis day one and go frolicking around in the forest with big smiles on our faces day two? Of course not, we were devastated and looked more like cancer patients than Ryder did early on. The purpose of this site though, is to get you up to speed on health and natural treatments a little faster than we did, and hopefully get you to look at the situation in a different light than you would have otherwise.

If I’m being honest with myself, we do way more of all this stuff now than we ever did before finding out our son has cancer. That Tim McGraw song “Live like You Were Dying” has a very good point. Not that I’m saying anyone needs to be dying anytime soon, that’s definitely not the purpose of this site, but why wouldn’t you want to seize every day you can for your family, in any situation, cancer or otherwise? Often, we have to just laugh and shrug our shoulders at the thought that The Lord certainly does work in mysterious ways. We moved to the best place we could possibly imagine for us and lead much more full and interesting lives all because our son got cancer. We’re also exponentially healthier than we were before. And that leads me to fighting.

Fighting for us is the constant and never ending pursuit to find out what we can do to make our kid the healthiest he can be and implementing the knowledge we’ve gained, whatever the cost. It’s moving states when you realize your current hospital is not and will never be conducive to this quest and that maybe it would be different somewhere else. It’s getting an EMF Meter and inspecting 50 different houses, looking equally crazy to each realtor showing the house, until you find one that is far enough away from other wifi routers, cell phone towers, etc. to produce an acceptable reading. Getting visits to your room from hospital directors because you’re being “too demanding” is an excellent example of fighting. It’s waking up with your face planted in a cancer book, wiping off the drool, and picking up where you left off the night before. Or getting up in the middle of the night, every night, to turn off the frequency generator because the darn thing doesn’t have an auto off function and starts beeping if you don’t. Having three credit card numbers, expiration dates, and csv codes memorized due to the flurry of products you’re ordering is a good indication you’re fighting.

Fighting is not trudging back and forth to and from the hospital day in and day out, it’s what you do to make the most of the rest of your time that counts. Fighting isn’t your best attempt at keeping a smile on your face as you listen to every different chemical they’re proposing to pump into your child. It’s questioning the necessity of each and every one of them, researching everything for yourself and getting as many outside opinions as it takes to make an informed decision. Fighting is not knowing everything there is to know about every different type of chemotherapy just for the sake of knowing it. It’s finding out what you can do to protect your kid from the ravages of chemo and accepting that just because your oncologist doesn’t have a clue about anything of that nature doesn’t mean nothing exists and you’re probably going to have to find another qualified healthcare professional to consult with about this sort of thing.

There’s always something more you can be doing. Don’t ever accept the phrase “this is all there is.” Nobody knows everything, so it’s up to you to find out as much as you can from a multitude of sources.

There’s a sentiment in the alternative cancer community that only the patient can truly heal their cancer. With childhood cancer, it’s the parents. Nobody cares about the outcome more than you do and will be willing to go to the extreme lengths you will to save your kid. Always remember that. And don’t forget to have a good time while you’re at it. Live for today, fight for tomorrow.

-Ryan

P.S. Music makes everything better. If you have a long hospital stay in your future, YouTube is incredible for any song you want on demand. We actually use it more than anything else these days, even at home. Get yourself a decent pair of computer speakers and use the following list to brighten your day: Avicii – The Days, The NightsTrue Rebelution – Peace of Mind. Dean Martin – Greatest Hits. Randy Travis – Greatest Hits. Steve Miller Band – Greatest Hits. Daft Punk – Discovery. The Gypsy Kings – Greatest Hits.

  3 Comments   Comment

  1. Bristol Christian

    Loved every sentence! You all are an inspiration to our family to live for today! This site is such a blessing to the childhood cancer community!

    Reply
  2. Kat

    I revel in your commentary every time you post. I have cured many of my issues and some friends issues with food, exercise and intent and I am glad this is your way of seeing Ryder grow to be an amazing adult. When I say issues, it is because I refuse to give them their medical terms. It gives the issues too much power. Suffice it to say, my gall bladder is still intact and functioning as is my pancreas and intestines. May all of your hard work continue to pay off because your boy’s smile is fantastic! Prayers and blessings your way.

    Reply

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