ianunderhill vs. cancer (RIP Nick)

Hopefully you'll never have another situation where you feel like going through this isn't worth it again.

You are worth the effort, and try to think about how you're going to feel once you're able to get back on your bike.

ianunderhill wrote:

Either way, I'm glad I have so many people in so many places on my side, and I hope I don't lose sight of that.

I don't think we'll make it easy for you to forget it.

Having a good weekend, Ian? Hope the pain killers are still working.

They're working fine, thanks for asking. It's been an okay weekend so far. Biggest challenge so far was figuring out how to get the gas heater in my apartment working. My roommate and I moved into this place mid-summer and so the recent drop in temperature required figuring it out. It's one of those boxy contraptions with the little window with the fake log behind it and the blower vents on either side. I opened the door (on the side and near the floor, thanks) and saw no pilot light going. The service card on the inside referred to lighting the pilot with an open flame, but I couldn't find it. I finally managed to trace some wiring to the back of the unit and find an ignition switch in a recessed panel on the back of the thing. Loads of fun bending down and leaning for ten minutes in my shape, but I did get it working and it throws way more heat than I'd expected. One less worry and cheap Game of Thrones reference here.

So yeah: thrills. On the plus side, my boss phoned to check in on me yesterday and we had a good long chat about the benefit, my progress, and so on. He even offered to come pick me up at whim (I'm ten minutes away from work) so I could just hang out at the bike shop if I found myself bored or getting stir-crazy from being at home so much, no work requirement or anything. Seeing as I like my co-workers and the shop environment, I may well take him up on that sometime soon. Overall, the call was a good reminder that I'm super fortunate to work where I do - outside the whole "we're such a tiny shop we can't offer our employees benefits" thing, the level of understanding, care and patience my boss and the staff have shown while I've been dealing with all this are amazing. I'm sure the timing helps a bit (this all happened right after our busy part of the year and I'll be doing chemo through our off-season) but I can't imagine the same having happened at the shop where I worked before. One more thing to be happy about.

I also found out that a certain bike components manufacturer (guess based on the locale!), a bike brand we carry, and two distributors we're partnered with are all donating items to the raffle/auction effort, and this is in addition to the prize packages previously pasted here. On top of that, a coaching/personal training biz that we're friendly with (they refer people to us, we offer discounts to their members, and I occasionally go out and do field service on their spin bikes) is putting together some training packages to go on offer as well. I can't believe how much great stuff there is already, and here comes more! Even better is the insane level of generosity coming in from so many corners - there seems to be a really strong desire to make this thing a big success, and that's nothing short of amazing.

And finally, I learned that the venue is only charging us the cost of paying the door guy and production staff. It's a ludicrously small fee that I think we'll cover without any trouble, and then the rest is all me. Granted, that's going right back out, but between this and the money from the ChipIn campaign and the financial assistance the hospital has worked out, the expense of uninsured medical treatment plus missing a crapton of work is looking to take a huge hit. Not having to worry about all that stuff as much and being able to focus more on actually dealing with beating the disease is a serious load off. Granted, it's still cancer and there's a lot to that, but life is looking a hell of a lot easier than it might otherwise. I'm so grateful for all the support coming in from so many places. Life really is as good as it could be.

Wow. This really is life-changing. You are soooo lucky. People can go their whole lives without finding out what really matters. It's inspiring. Every time you post, you've got some other affirmation of the goodness of the world.

My problems seem tiny in comparison, and you're restoring my faith in people.

You're not kidding! I would go so far as to say I'm stupidly lucky.

Between having been a solid friend in my younger days ("You need help moving/fixing your computer/loading music gear in the van/getting through a nasty breakup/etc.?") plus working in a niche industry where word travels fast and a lot of people aren't in it for the money (there isn't much), a lot of what's happening can be chalked up to being in the right spot for combatting something big and universally feared. If I believed in karma, I'd probably also factor in my years working in various capacities of the tech non-profit scene here (year in an AmeriCorps VISTA I.T. project, co-founding FreeGeek Chicago and helping run it in the pre-budget years, and web dev/design work for non-profits through my friends' old dev company).

Regardless, I am in all the right places to make this business manageable through some generous outside help. I'm almost hyper-conscious of that fact and don't take it for granted in the slightest. I know a lot of good people and am connected to many more that I don't know well but who are all about helping a hard-working son of a bitch like me try to beat a hated disease. It's pretty amazing. I just wish more people could get this kind of support when facing any sort of hardship.

I think that this is a definite case where you will have a chance to pay it forward sometime in the future. Maybe not for something cancer-related, but for something.

ianunderhill wrote:

You're not kidding! I would go so far as to say I'm stupidly lucky.

If it weren't for dumb luck, we wouldn't have much luck at all.

ianunderhill wrote:

co-founding FreeGeek Chicago

Perhaps we are connected after all. Did you know a guy named Derek?

I don't believe I do know any Derek. At founding in 2005, there were myself, a Mark, a David, a Jim, a Steve, a Ben, and a Jenika, and the guy who originally hooked us up with our space was called Carl. I was one of the central staff members in the several years where there was no budget and I routinely pitched my own money (oh, the glory days of desk jockey surplus!) into the pot to help pay rent etc. There have been a lot of people who have been involved over the years, though, and I've not been closely involved since 2009, although I am in close contact with the one remaining founder still directly involved (David). Between time constraints during season at the bike shop and my concerns about my own idealistic motivations getting in the way of people from the community taking a greater stake in running and sustaining FGC, I've sort of relegated it to a legacy thing, albeit one I'm very proud of. (I was also once featured talking at length in a marketing video shot for us by some DDB interns...I think it's on Vimeo somewhere, although they used part of the theme from the US version of The Office and so it may have been taken down since. UPDATE: No, all the new videos are on Vimeo; the old video I was in is on blip.tv; I'm the annoying white guy who talks about us being volunteer-run, recycling issues, etc. Note that there are in fact now some paid staff members, because there's a budget! Things have improved.)

Still, lots of names and faces. Any further context while we're off the subject? I'm curious now.

wordsmythe wrote:

Perhaps we are connected after all. Did you know a guy named Derek?

Smart?

ianunderhill wrote:

Still, lots of names and faces. Any further context while we're off the subject? I'm curious now.

He had this sort of greaser/rockabilly look. I don't remember how he was connected with FreeGeek, but I'm pretty sure he at least volunteered there. He was dating a friend of mine tamed Tomi. Also, he had a friend who drive a semi as a job, which was so far beyond hipster trucker hats that I had to buy im a drink at the California Clipper (it was Derek's birthday).

HE WAS A PRETTY ALRIGHT DUDE.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

Perhaps we are connected after all. Did you know a guy named Derek?

Smart?

Not Derek Smart, but a smart guy nonetheless.

Hrm. I'm pretty sure I would've remembered someone like that for certain, so I'm pretty sure he wasn't around during my time. All the same, it's pretty cool to say, "I co-founded this weird little non-profit that does computer stuff and is still kicking" and then have someone else say, "Hey, yeah, someone I know volunteered there!" When I die*, getting FreeGeek Chicago off the ground is probably going to be at the top of my list of accomplishments.

*And I mean "ultimately". I'm still planning on beating cancer if I have any say in the matter.

Yeah, you're kind of a big deal.

Well, I do have my own thread.

$5,000!!! YEYEYEYEYE!!!!!

Yup - some big contributions from mostly-strangers pushed things over the line in the wake of the benefit's Facebook page going live. It's good news to be sure. While medical bill assistance is still up in the air (though looking promising), this goes a long ways towards making sure I'm not going to be homeless or starving while I go through chemo. It's very reassuring considering I don't know how my body's going to handle chemo - while I hope to get back to work in the next two weeks, there's no telling how much more work chemo might cause me to miss, and this is in the face of the drastically limited hours of the shop's off-season.

Once again, my sincerest thanks to the GWJ community for pushing me to start the ChipIn campaign, and to everyone who's been kind enough to make a contribution or spread the word. Like I said: stupid lucky.

(Oh, and ZaneRockfist, you should know that I read "YEYEYEYEYE!!!!!" as though performed by Billy West playing Stimpson J. Cat during the original run of Ren & Stimpy. Hope that's okay by you.)

Awesome!

I'll be seeing my primary oncologist on Monday morning, hopefully finding out how far off I am from starting chemo. I'm dreading it a bit because I know chemo's going to suck, but on the other hand, I'm eager to get started to get it over with.

Today's bright moment: the junior mechanic from work stopped by my apartment this afternoon for a visit. Apart from briefing him on where I'm at, how my mobility is limited, etc., it was basically just us feeling out on bike stuff. I really enjoy getting to have ordinary conversations these days. Also stoked as he's going to be trying racing cyclocross this year, so I'm looking forward to hearing about his personal take on the experience.

That's great!

ianunderhill wrote:

I read "YEYEYEYEYE!!!!!" as though performed by Billy West playing Stimpson J. Cat during the original run of Ren & Stimpy.

That's the best possible way to read that, IMO.

Glad to hear things are going well. Keep up the cancer ass-kicking!

Good news about the funds!

So my trip to the doctor today revealed more oddness with my case. It turns out that, during surgery, they found little flecks of cancer spread thought my abdomen, and after conferring with oncology, worked out that I don't have colon cancer, but rather appendiceal cancer. They still did the removal of me bit of my colon that had the tumor in it, and the removal of my omentum was still a good idea because of this, but the bottom line is appendiceal cancer is even more rare than what they thought I was facing to begin with. My oncologist has conferred with the leading expert on the subject in Washington, DC, who advised going ahead with chemo (great, because going to DC would be a logistical nightmare for me), but she's also talked to a surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (also in Chicago) who has also dealt with this, and so I'm getting a consult set up with him. I guess in some cases, there's a form of therapeutic surgery in which the cancer cells are scraped/removed as much as possible from any tissue they're on the surface of, and then the abdominal cavity gets treated with a different form of chemo, which is done with a catheter going directly into the abdomen, as the chemical cocktail won't reach the surface of organs/tissues through the bloodstream.

I'm not thrilled at the notion of more surgery so soon, but I'm glad to get a second opinion from someone more experienced with this, and I consider the cursory feedback from the doctor in DC hopeful. Once we've got things set re:paperwork and getting some scan images and pathology slides to the doctor at Northwestern, I'll get a better idea of what's next - I hope. Tentatively, I'm seeing him Thursday morning, but this is entirely dependent on getting records and samples and some more financial assistance paperwork in order. Thankfully my oncologist is being very helpful about the medical stuff, and I've got a friend with a scanner who's going to pick me up tomorrow morning so I can get my new FA forms signed and submitted. Hopefully this will expedite matters.

You're a unicorn!

Sorry to hear, but it sounds like you're in good hands. Go forth and continue to kick ass. *salute*

Your awesomeness truly knows no bounds. Cheers to you, good sir!!

I'm a friend with a scanner! Just in case you need an extra one :-). Keep kicking ass!

Good to know, Bill. Thanks, I'll definitely keep that in mind.

ianunderhill wrote:

Good to know, Bill. Thanks, I'll definitely keep that in mind.

I would cry wolf and see what happens first

But I'd need a human enemy who needs his head exploded. You don't test this sort of thing on innocents. Or at least I don't, anyway.

Good luck with the next round. I'm glad to hear your recovery from the earlier surgery seems to be going smoothly. Hang in there.

ianunderhill wrote:

But I'd need a human enemy who needs his head exploded. You don't test this sort of thing on innocents. Or at least I don't, anyway.

I hear what you're saying. We need a lawyer to create a shell corporation to cover the liability first.