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Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

ah yes, the year in review

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Starting to see these “Year in Review” post come along and probably many more to come. Actually I enjoy them. Gives me a chance to catch up on some good things I might have missed. I thought about doing something similar but changed my mind or should I say style of doing my year in review. For I wrote a post called “Finish Lines” about a year ago that marked 12/17 as a milestone date to me. I went back and read it today. And while that post may have seemed a bit vague, this post will fill in the blanks.

Off the bench. Photo by Mike Hartley

Off the bench.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So instead of reviewing my post this year, I just want to note what a contrast life presents sometimes. And the gift that Life and some doctors gave me in 2016. From the beginning of 2015 to a year ago today Dec 17th 2015, I was dealing with a cancer on a daily basis. As the doctor says a very aggressive one. So surgery mid year was done but that didn’t get it all. It also made the conversation about the number of years one might have with this even more in my face after surgery failed to get it all. So I ended 2015 with a few months of radiation which also ended on this day a year ago 12/17 as my better half reminded me of this anniversary yesterday.

Before I even started the radiation they said it was a 50/50 shot that this would catch it all or slow it up. So I ended 2015 pretty down. To start 2016, I was sick as a dog from the months of radiation treatments. I had to wait a few more months till being tested to see how effective the radiation had been so even as I started to feel better physically, I had that uncertainty and mental worry. Every test I got in 2015 was bad news it seemed. Was this just going to keep progressing and leave me in and out of hospitals the rest of my short life? I was so exhausted from doctors and hospitals and treatments and appointments.

But my body started to bounce back, my spirits and hopes were alive because there was a chance and all I had to do was wait till April. Well thankfully the first test came back clear. So did the second one. And just this past week the 3rd one came back clear. So it appears I made it a year cancer free. Yes I was reminded, that I needed to be tested every few months still, no problem, that is easy. As long as I’m able to steer clear of hospitals and treatments, I’m loving LIFE.

But hold on. While that was nice I was busy living life this past year. My Son got married to a wonderful woman. A great time in my life. My Daughter and her husband brought their first home and moved in. I was able to stay employed for another year. I got my Will and other financial and medical affairs in order (something I should have done much earlier). I had a couple of wonderful vacations. Ballgames with my son and son in-law. I started to live and eat healthier. Even though by my post and the photos of food consumed some might disagree. But really, I eat things like salads now, maybe even the slice or two of tomato on the cheese-steak sub. But many more great things over the year with friends and family.

I’ve been able to continue to do this blog and hopefully spread a little joy beyond what I get out of it.

But today I’m asking myself why me. No in the sense of why me, why did I get cancer. But its in the vain of why did I get it and survive twice now, while most others have more difficult paths. To me its possibly a few things. My primary (Dr Eversley) didn’t stop investigating when I told him of a pain in my chest when I first had kidney cancer. So the team at University of Maryland Medical Center got me, (Dr Phelan) did the operation and that has been clear for over 8 years now.

But in late 2014 the primary again caught an increasing PSA. Back to the team at UMMC and Dr Naslund for the biopsy and then to Dr Siddiqui who did my surgery. Then over to Dr Amin in radiology. These men and their teams of nurses, technicians who treated me at UMMC have my utmost thanks. For you have given me healthy time and a great 2016. I know you work just as hard in every case. And I know things don’t always go as well. And I want you to know that I’m not wasting any of this life. For I recognize that I’ve been given another chance to live each day better than the last day.

But the other thing that has had a huge effect. My better half. She is a rock. I guess she was listening during our wedding vows when the priest came to the part about “in sickness and in health”. Because she has been there for me for both now, keeping my mental attitude right and supporting me in so many ways.

And of course my wonderful children and friends. I wouldn’t be here without this entire and wonderful team of support.

So while I’m thankful for a great 2016, I’m looking forward to 2017 and living and loving each day. I also hope to work now to help others less fortunate. Think I’ll make a donation to the hospital and a cancer foundation or two this evening. May all of you have the healthiest of New Years ahead.

Author: Mike Hartley

With a lifetime and a half in the Newspaper industry I'm preparing for my retirement career as an Artist, Writer, Photographer and Video content provider. I'm a proud father of two wonderful children and I'm still married to the first girl I fell in love with and probably only one that would have me.

One thought on “ah yes, the year in review

  1. Hey Mike, I really, really enjoyed your testimony. Being down here I lose track of all the battles you have gone through. After reading your story I am sitting here amazed at how tough a road you traveled and that doesn’t account for the brutal work commute or the challenges you face at work. Now throw in the part of an ungrateful friend who cries like a little baby over his hardships. Thank you for helping open my eyes and get a glimpse of a real man and his real life and death struggles, and the model you have walked out before my blind eyes, who best I can remember only on rare occassion mentions not feeling well. I missed so much of what you were going through. I did notice how you and NN grew much closer and how you cherished your time with her in a more vocal way. I am beginning to experience some of that with Miss Kathy since I am more of a man of moderation, these days. Tomorrow is a big step for me in that department. Please pray for me and Kathy.

    Thanks for the awakening you are modeling to me.

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