I have always considered myself a child of the 70’s. Even though I was born in 1962, and my first 7 years on this planet were actually in the decade of free love and hippies and anti-war demonstrations, I grew up in the 70’s. My last few years of elementary school, junior high, and my high school years were almost all during what was called at the time, the “me” decade. For better or worse, the decade of disco, Charlie’s Angels, and Watergate were the formative years of my childhood.
Being a young sports fan during that decade could be challenging, because back then sports were not a 24 hour, 7 days a week kind of thing. When sports came on TV, and I mean any sport, my brothers and I would watch it. I think that is why events such as the Olympics, or horse racing or boxing were so big back then. When something came on, you watched it. It was a big deal. And one of the things that I watched growing up were the fights of a boxer named Roberto Duran.
ABC had a show called ABC’s Wide World of Sports, and that show broadcasted competitions in just about every sport known to man. Everything from barrel jumping on ice skates to demolition derbies to gymnastics to ski jumping, you name it, they showed it. And when they broadcast boxing matches, a lot of times they showed the fights of Duran. He was a Panamanian lightweight who simply destroyed everyone he fought. His nickname…Stonehands. He was undefeated, and untouchable.
Which is why, on November 25, 1980, it was so shocking and absolutely inexplicable that in Duran’s second fight with Sugar Ray Leonard, before the end of the eighth round, Roberto Duran, the undefeated fighter from Panama, a man I saw destroy every opponent he ever faced, turned away from Leonard and told the referee,”No mas.” No more. He was done. Leonard became the champion because Duran simply gave up.
Duran gave an explanation at the time that he had lost a bunch of weight for the fight and had eaten a lot of food after his weigh in, which gave him stomach cramps, which nobody believed, not even his trainer. Most people feel that Duran was increasingly frustrated by Leonard’s style of fighting, and after eight rounds of trying to chase him down, and because he knew he was losing, he quit rather than be humiliated by a ruling against him by the judges. Duran would have to fight for years to gain back his reputation, which I don’t think he ever did, and the words, “No mas” became synonymous with giving up. In that split second, all the work that he had done up to that point, all the championships, all the victories, all the adulation from the Panamanian people came crashing down.
I think as people we are always looking for inspiration. We want to hear the stories of people that became great through adversity and hard work. It’s fun to read stories about people that had difficult roads to success, but somehow fought through it and became who they are today, like famous actors, sports stars, or politicians. “Rocky” was popular for a reason…we love that stuff.
It’s the same in the world of cancer. Fight it, don’t let it win, do whatever it takes, livestrong, be brave. Never, ever give up! I have Stuart Scott’s book next to me as I write this and it’s called,”Every Day I Fight.” On his arms is written,”Making a difference” and “Kicking cancer’s ass.” Inspirational, right? You bet it is!
Stuart Scott fought cancer valiantly for over 7 years until he passed away in January 2015.
But…is there ever a time when, while going through the fight, and getting sick from the treatments, and having your life changed from surgery or drugs or watching yourself waste away, that you can say “No mas?” Is it ok not to fight? Is it ok to live your life the way you want to live it, and if that means 5 years of doing what you want instead of 20 years of misery, is that giving up?
Last week, I spent the better part of two days in the hospital. I had a dizzy spell at work, and after feeling a little better, bent down to pick something off the floor and almost passed out. After an unsuccessful CAT scan, I had to get an MRI, during which I freaked out and had to have it done while totally sedated, which kept me in the hospital an extra day. Good times!
While I was laying in my little hospital bed trying to sleep inbetween visits by people trying to take my vitals, I started thinking about my current situation. The drug that I am on, Xtandi, can cause falls, and I have fallen twice and had the episode with vertigo that put me in the hospital. I have also lost my muscles due to the drug, and climbing stairs has become really hard. Doing the things I love, running and biking, are impossible. I am usually depressed, easy to anger, overweight and generally struggling with the quality of my life. I hate my job, and my relationship with my wife has changed because of my complete disinterest in physical affection. But hey, at least it’s keeping me alive, right?
But that’s tricky, too. My PSA has risen a time or two since I was first diagnosed 7 years ago, but I’ve had 3 bone scans and 3 CAT scans looking for cancer, and they have all come up clear. So what am I fighting? That I MIGHT get cancer? That it MIGHT metastasize? I had my prostate removed with the tumor, so where is the cancer now? 38 radiation treatments and 2 and a half years of hormone treatments, where is it?? I’m as frustrated as Duran was fighting Leonard. It feels like I am fighting a ghost.
So, laying in that hospital bed, I made a decision. No mas. No more. I’ve decided to take the rest of the year off from treatments and appointments and tests and anything else that has anything to do with the medical profession. I cancelled my appointment on June 1 to get my latest PSA reading. I cancelled my annual physical. I will make appointments again in January of 2018, but until then, I am on a treatment vacation, and really, a going to any kind of doctor, vacation. No shots. No pills. Nothing.
I want to take the next seven months and learn how to run again, how to bike again, how to make love to my wife again. I want to live my life again.
If I love how I feel, this might turn into a permanent vacation. And you might ask, are you worried that you could get really sick? Are you giving up? I plan on eating better and exercising and getting in better shape. Will that make a difference with the cancer? I have no idea. I was in great shape when I was first diagnosed, so probably not. I’m not giving up. But right now, today, I am saying, no mas.
Not real inspirational I know, but hey, this is real life, not Hollywood.
Thanks for reading.
12 thoughts on “No Mas”
I’m in a similar situation. What am I fighting? The ghost of cancer? The meds make me miserable – I’ve lost my self in an attempt to keep the cancer away. I too am taking a break – starting to feel like me again! Hang in there. “No mas” is not quitting it is making a choice to do it your own way!
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Dan! I’m cheering!! I’m cheering for you! This is a new fight and you can’t lose! It’s a fight to live your real life. The victories will be so good. I’m cheering for you and your wife! Praying for you, and happy you are saying ‘no mas’.
And, by the way, you need to keep writing. I had no idea about this gift of yours!
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Thank you, Rhonda. I started this blog back in January, and it’s really taken off. I enjoy writing.
wow Dan I really love how you’re so honest. I get it. I work in the medical field and I often wonder two things : 1. I’m grateful for all of the new technology and things we can do for people but 2: have we gone too far with medicine that has all the multiple side effects that you so eloquently spoke of. It’s hard to watch the side effects that many people live with and you have to wonder if it really is living. I respect your right to make your decision. I pray that God will bless you and as you said maybe you’re taking all these medications to fight something that’s not even there. I really do hope the quality of yourself is made great again. I look forward to hearing your journey . thanks again for your honesty and sharing..
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Dan…great read and no you are not giving up! Yes, I believe a person gets to a point in their cancer journey when the say no more! Prayers for no cancer return and to living your life again!
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Dan I often think of you and how you and Holly are doing… I thank you for coming to visit me while I was in the hospital after my surgery with my colon being removed due to stage 3 colon cancer. You, my friend, are an inspiration and you’re 💯 % correct all of that medicine and drugs does a wear down of your body. I also was battling the physical drive ( of myself) and that was tearing my husband and I apart as I look “healed” but I’m internally a mess. I know that was a hard decision for you but I’m glad you are ” taking a break”. Heck I would too especially if there’s no signs of Cancer and like you said “fighting the Cancer ghost “… I will continue to pray for you and your healing!
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Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading Jackie. We cancer survivors know that “being healed” is much more complicated than being cancer free. All the best to you and your family.
Even though we have lost touch over the years I have been thinking about you a lot since I found this blog. I really enjoyed renewing our friendship for a few years after college through our common interest in running. I am praying that this next season of life is fruitful for you and is everything you hope for. (Let’s take a bike ride or run together this fall!)
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Thanks for reading Mike. I would love to take a bike ride with you sometime, but you’ll have to take it easy on me cuz it’s gonna take awhile to get the legs back. When I think about our running together, my favorite memory is the relays we did around Springfield. Those were great fun. My love to both you and Sharon.
Hi Dan. I stumbled across one of your posts (the tribute to Mark Bradford) in the Facebook support group, and had to check out your blog. (I read the whole thing today.) We seem to share similar outlooks on many things and, this post, in particular, really resonated with me.
I was diagnosed in November 2010 and had a radical prostatectomy on 4 January 2011 (Gleason 3+4, negative margins, no lymph or seminal vesicle involvement). My PSA was undetectable for 54 months when it came in at 0.05 ng/ml in September 2015; after bouncing up and down that first year, it’s now up to 0.10 ng/ml.
Given what I know about the side effects of the treatment options that will likely be headed my way, I’m questioning why even bother if the treatment causes me to merely exist rather than actually live, doing the things that I actually enjoy doing. As you said, would you rather have 5-8 really good years, or 20 really crappy years? I don’t know that I can answer that yet.
The good news is that I have time to think about it. My PSA is doubling so slowly that I’m quite comfortable doing nothing than monitoring every 4 months for now. When I saw my doctor on 19 December, he suggested I start thinking about salvage radiation therapy. He’d prefer to start it with the PSA less than 0.2 ng/ml, and certainly by the time it reaches 0.5 ng/ml. We’ll see what the next PSA test yields.
Thanks again for sharing your story, and I may be wanting to pick your brain as I continue down this path. All the best in 2018! —Dan
(If you’re interested, you can read my story at dansjourney.com.)
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Thanks Dan. Yes, deciding what to do and when to do it is one of the most difficult aspects of this disease. I have read your blog and I am following it. I have an appointment coming up where I will get my latest numbers. We will see from there.
Hi dan. I stumbled on your blog some how, I think the boxing reference caught my eye and I’m pretty certain I watched that fight on tv.
I was 50 when I had my rp, I had no symptoms at all just had a blood test and my psa was 27 biopsy came ba k stage 4 blah blah blah.
Fast forward june 2020 16 years later still feel healthy no signs of nothing.had a routine check up with blood test psa was 329 . Three hundred twenty nine. Dr was more alarmed than I was. I had ct and bone scan bones are fine tumors aas on lymph nodes. He gave me 2 booster shots of something in my stomach and ordered me xtandi ouch 10 grandca month goodjob I’m a millionaire. not
Anyway follow up 1 month later and 60 pills later psa is at 17 month august 3rd sho
t and 120 pills psa isc3.5. I have not really had any effect from the cancer or the cure with the exception of incontinence, no erections or last month no sex drive get alitfle more tired though.doc says I will be on these for along while like years I’m thinking no. As I was well before and well after in fact I didn’t know I was sick until they told me. I’m thinking. Of no mas.
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