In 1991, I entered the Toughman Contest when I was living in Sioux City. Back then, it was all boxing, and at age 38, I was nearing the end of eligibility, so it was now or never. I entered the contest.
I was matched up against a guy who was 15 years younger, 3 or 4 inches taller, and 35 pounds heavier. In the third round, he hit me on the side of the head just right. My brain began vibrating like a tuning fork and I was numb. I covered up with my gloves and he pummeled me for a few shots. I was thinking, "This is what it's like to get knocked out in the ring. Here it comes." The first photo at left shows the punch that rang my bell (my body is hidden by the corner post but his glove is colliding with the side of my head.
Suddenly, he got tired and backed away. My head cleared instantly. I uncovered, walked a few feet across the ring and snapped his head back with a punch (the photo below shows his head snapping back). I ended up winning by unanimous decision. Physically, I had never done anything as difficult. Although I was eligible to return the next night for the final eliminations, I decided that I was proud of myself for trying it and "retired."
When the doctor told me a few days ago that the scope showed a small bloody tumor in my left lung, I felt like I did in the third round of the Toughman Contest. This was not something I expected. I've never even taken one puff from a cigarette, and I've worked to stay in good shape all my adult life. I felt as if I had taken a good shot to the head.
Nancy and I couldn't help but think the worst for a few hours. I knew my daughters would take it hard, so Nancy called to tell them.
By morning, my head had cleared and I was ready to fight back. Now, I'm not even worried about it. The good thing about my philosophy -- I can detach and try to rise above crisis and think clearly. Remaining centered is a skill that you can achieve if you practice long enough. I began practicing in 1987, and it works.
I had a PET scan on Friday. They inject you with radioactive glucose, then put you in a machine and look at how your cells are using the glucose. Cancer cells are hungry and the scan reveals which cells are the hungry ones. I'll learn the results sometime this week -- the sooner the better. I'll also learn this week the lab results from the cell scrapings from the tumor -- it was too small for a biopsy, which might be a good sign.
I had to lie quietly for an hour after being injected with the glucose prior to the PET scan. I did chi kung for the entire hour. They took me to the machine, and as soon as they slid me in I began coughing up blood. Oh, well.
This afternoon it happened again as Nancy and I were at her son's house. I had to go into the bathroom and use the sink until it stopped about five minutes later.
Then I came home and practiced Cannon Fist (not at full speed).
I'm not worried that this little tumor is life-threatening. I don't like the breathing problems I'm having, but I believe as soon as we know what's going on, we can take the right action and walk on. I lost my voice a couple of weeks ago from all the coughing from the past two months, but it's a little stronger today, and I'm hoping it's back in the next day or two so I can tape more lessons for the online school.