Based in Pittsburgh, PA, Cancer Experience Expressions is an online space for the sharing of cancer stories. 

Chemo in college

After my time in Houston, I headed back to PA with some medical decisions on the horizon and a regimen of chemo to complete. This was mostly administered at home through a portable pump. Kinda nice.

I decided to live at Thiel for much of this time, figured the stimulation I get from my people there might help-- like Wren's: “My font is bigger than yours.” Chemo made the life of fellow townhouse mates that year far from ordinary.

 

First entrance to chemo  baldland had me bummed.

Knew it was coming, but when it fell, I was stunned.

Next time kinda had me smirking

Surgery had left its mark already

aesthetic appearance seemed no matter.

Asked my friend to shave the rest off”

“Straight razor or buzz?”; I say “the latter.”

50/50 esque, so bad, but smiles come across

 

 

During these months I carried out independent studies toward both my Philosophy major and my coaching minor through participation with the baseball team in an assistant role and a study on Spinoza's Ethics. 

Of course both projects were flexible with requirements and obligations. I had the master bedroom in the townhouse.

Instead of class and practice, I tended to Breaking Bad from my bed, milkshakes from the kitchen, and Spinoza from my chair and ottoman. Occasionally a mischievous, elusive, ninja feline named Tito joined me. However, philosophy didn’t seem to interest him. Instead, that choreographed Duns menaced through the incense and/or tapestry.  

Around that time, I signed up for a trip to Greece through the travel abroad program at Thiel. I attended an initial meeting in the Rare Books room and was sold on the opportunity. But then when I brought it up with my oncologist; I was told to cancel the trip I had already begun paying for.

This took wind from my sails, and following treatments packed some punch. My insides were being toiled and then spew back out, leaving me empty. I felt like a shell, with no interest in much at all. I couldn’t seem to find any sort of rhythm, but just wondering what should have been. Turns out, I ended up going to Greece, so my worries were nonsense, as seems often the case. 

Eventually, I was sitting in the computer lab of the Langenheim Library at Thiel College (not far from the rare books rooms, actually) and received a long-awaited call from my oncologist at M.D. Anderson. We talked about scans and how the chemo was going, and he gave me the go-ahead to take a vacation from chemo to join that trip to Greece.  I went right home and called the study abroad tour company, to see if I could get my spot and deposit back in order. They made it super easy for me to do so, and just like that—the plan was again to go in a few months. Upon learning I could go again, I began slowly building my physical strength through light exercise—had to prepare for all the exploring we’d do.

Mount Parnassus in Delphi exuded poetic vibrancy, the originary energies positively remarkable.  “Know Thyself” & “Avoid Excess” are both inscribed on the Temple of Apollo in Greek. The tour guide was phenomenal, giving a presentation that reflected the spirit of Delphi: the answers to be found depend on how the questions are crafted. 

Oracle of Delphi exuded intellectual vibrance, and the energies that flow in that environment are positively remarkable. Both inscribed on the Temple of Apollo and the atmosphere of Parnassus, are the notions, in Greek: “Know Thyself” & “Avoid Excess.” The tour guide was phenomenal, giving a presentation that reinforced the effect of Delphi; she stressed that the questions asked yield the answers they deserved.

Delphi was the center of the Greek world, where people from every polis (city-state) would gather to ask wisdom of the Oracle. Before every colony was founded, from Barcelona to Alexandria, the Oracle of Delphi had to be consulted first. Many years later, Theodosius the Great, an Eastern Roman emperor, outlawed paganism and had Delphi shut down. Eventually, the entire site was buried under rockslides and dirt and a village was built over it. The British and French rediscovered Delphi in the 1800s, relocated the village, and restored the site to its current condition. Even now, it is still a far cry from the lavish and richly decorated temple complex it once was. Our entire journey was under the sight of Mount Parnassus, a tall and rocky natural monument. After the enlightening presentation, many of us journeyed up the entire side of the slope to the stadium where the Pythian Games were held during Roman times. We toured the Delphi museum, where we found a lot of the remaining art and statues from the original setting. That Oracle and that entire side of the mountain had to be incredibly invigorating in its prime.     The essence of Delphi is a perfect model of the human condition. The way things unfold for us has so much to do with what choices we make, and the best way to do that as leaders did in antiquity is to craft our question very carefully in order to evoke the knowledge we seek.

We then made our way to lunch at a charming cafe where as we all got seated they presented us with options, showing the fresh cut meats and ingredients. After a beautiful ride along the coast to our next hotel in Patras, we admired at the scenery of mountains and sea while digesting the life-changing experiences of the day. We were able to enjoy some time at the beach before dinner and swim in the Corinthian Sea, dodging numerous sea urchins.  After dinner at the hotel, we had the group in full together at a table discussing the day and other observations from the trip creating pleasant interaction.

After seeing Greek countryside en route to Olympia, I participated in a (bare) footrace.  My strength persisted decently throughout. Actually, there was only one activity that I had to stay back from to rest.  The treatment following the trip went smoothly, as I began under sound condition. 

 

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