Note: the following is a sort of prologue
to the post Flight Crew member Todd
Haskins wrote in his
Scope That Colon blog last week… about having to
rebuild his entire season's training, "starting from scratch and
doing all the little things I didn't do last season."
A lot of us go through that kind of experience,
reaching the end of the season and realizing we didn't really
accomplish the goals we'd set for ourselves and that we'll have to
start all over again for next year.
Doesn't sound like such a big deal either, until you realize
that for Todd "starting over" means something a little different
than it might for the rest of us. And because Todd doesn't talk
much about how being a cancer survivor impacts his day-to-day life-
and because everything he says comes drizzled in his unique of
deadpan humor- it's easy to conclude that "all that stuff" happened
a long time ago.
So I asked him to write this prologue: to give a little more
context to what "starting over" means when you have to really Start
Over. Just a little something for the rest of us to think about
when it's tough to get up in the morning and get on the bike or off
to work or whatever.
I remember the day last summer like
it was yesterday....
My sons, Noah (7 at the time) and
Luke (5) and I were sitting one morning eating breakfast. Noah-
sensing that I was feeling awful that particular morning- turned to
me to ask if he or Lukie will get cancer.
I was taken aback and scared to
answer, but we always try to be open and honest with the kids
(within reason, of course). I told him the truth and said that
because it's "in the family" there's a chance that one of them may
end up getting sick too.
But I wanted them to know two
First, they are way too young to
worry about it. If it does happen, it won't be until they are much,
much older and there is no need for them to worry about it right
Second, if they do get it, by that
time there will be a cure and better treatments than what they are
watching me go thru, so it won't be as bad.
Noah looked at me and accepted the
answers... after pondering a few seconds on what I said his reply
was, "Well if we do get it, I hope I get it so Lukie doesn't have
to go through it."
This happened about half way thru my
6 months of chemo for stage 3 colon cancer. To me, it sums up what
cancer means to me... an undying selflessness that leads to fight,
help and hope.
For those of you who don't know me,
my name is Todd Haskins and I'm happy to say "I'm a cancer
survivor!" Just think of me as "Lance Lite".
It was February 4th, 2010
when I got the news. Ironically, the timing was doubly terrible. It
was just a few days before that my wife left for Pennsylvania to be
with her family following her dad's passing. Here we were, over 400
miles apart and in desperate need for each other. A horrible
Cancer? Why? How? When? What the
hell? (OK it wasn't that clean, but you get the idea). Two weeks
later I was going into the hospital for surgery.
Here's an entry from my blog on my
second day back home...
Well as most of you already
know, I came home a couple days ago (Might of been Tuesday, I can't
The whole experience really
sucked. I don't mean that in anyway derogatory toward the staff at
St Francis who were wonderful, but just the whole package in
They ended up taking out a chunk
of colon and 15 lymph nodes.
First few days laying in bed
next to people I don't know and only able to eat ice chips made me
reach for the pain med dispenser button quite a bit..lol.
After a few days they took me
off the pain stuff, but I still wasn't passing anything "down
there" so I was forced to stay there eating chicken broth and jello
(god, I hope to never eat that crap again).
The worst was night time when you're "sober" .
You don't realize how much noise the normal day to day shuffle
drowns out the "unpleasantries".
When you're not all doped up you
hear every machine, every bed alarm, every moan from pain and every
crying family member who comes in the middle of the night with
his/her sick relative.
Spent the last two nights there
just trying to cry myself to sleep or just aimlessly walking around
the hospital at 1:30 in the morning.
Finally we were able to get me
some help with the sleeping, but by then the damage was done. I was
a beaten man at that point.
Anyway, they found the cancer
has attacked my lymph nodes (11 of 15... those are pretty crappy
odds) so a pretty aggressive chemo program starts in a few weeks.
We spoke to the doctor about it and he threw around a lot of
medical terms and stuff but at that point I was just ready to go
home and didn't care about the next step.
Spent most of Tuesday in a
haze and fog over the whole experience and my insanely strong wife
kept me focused and helped me realize I need to be strong to beat
this so that's the way it's going to have to be....
Hit up Dick's Sporting Goods for
a Livestrong Sweatshirt, so now I'm ready, right?.
The crappy thing is that having
staples like this (I had gotten 14" of my colon removed and 16
staples from my belly button to my crotch), means that wearing
pants really sucks...and they just don't make cool bed shirts for
men... At least not ones I can wear out to drop Luke off to school
And then there was the 6 months of
For those of you who have never been
through it, it's sitting there for 6 hours at a time, getting
pricked with needles a lot, dangerous chemicals pumped into your
body, feeling like crap for a few days (which gets longer as the
program goes on), allergies to meds (of course I was one of 1% of
people allergic to a certain family of nausea meds... go figure),
depression, joy and confusion, all rolled into one big ball of
Jealous, aren't you.
The weirdest thing was "cold
neuropathy"... the chemicals they gave me made it so I couldn't
touch or drink cold. If I did, instant pins and needles. Just in
time for summer.
So how do you get thru it? To steal
a line from Nike, you "just do it". My family and friends were
always there when I needed them. Being a stay at home dad made
things a bit easier too.
But damn it, if I didn't have an
appointment someplace, I walked them to school, took them to the
pool during the summer, and tried to keep things as "normal" as
possible. Doing so was really important to my wife and me. You get
up every morning, look at cancer in the mirror and say "you won't
beat me today", then you go off and fight it with everything you
I realize that I can go
on about this for a really long time. You can all get a better
"real time" idea of what fighting and beating cancer is like by
blog. It'll give you a better idea of my feelings during it all
(and a better taste of my well-documented sense of humor).
I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by
great family and great friends. Believe it or not, I almost feel
like I'm a lucky guy to have gotten cancer. There was a time in my
life were maybe I took too much for granted and this experience
helped me realize how fortunate and blessed I really am.
On a personal note, I want to thank Rick at
Airborne for asking me to write this. I spent a good part of the
week end trying to figure out in my head what to say. Spent the
last few hours looking back at my blog and re-reading the feelings
I had at the time. It had been months since I've done that.
The "fire" that cancer gave me has
been flickering back to complacency the last few months and doing
this project opened my eyes to that. I owe everyone many
So now that you know the context,
click here for Todd's Total Tear Down
PS: You can learn more about Big Todd Haskins here
on the Airborne Flight Crew page.