Health & Medical

Outfoxing the Grim Reaper

We’re back.

Thanks in great part to your compassionate thoughts and prayers, after a year almost to the day, Carolyn and I are just now out from under the likely death sentence that is cancer.

Death sentence? A bit dramatic, isn’t it?

Much depends on how much you love life. A year ago, Carolyn fought bravely for hers as she underwent a stem cell transplant to arrest her newfound multiple myeloma cancer.

“Have the death-defying transplant or never see 2009.” That’s what doctors concluded.

I remember the time well. I had a heart attack that weekend.

And as regular Suddenly Senior readers know, it’s been going like that for us pretty much ever since.

My cancer was diagnosed last October. It, too, is Stage IV – terminal.

I also had a choice. Undergo immediate surgery and extensive chemo and radiation and live maybe a year. Or die in 16 to 20 days.

Talk about a no-brainer! Yet some advised me to give up; that chemo was worse than death itself.

T’ain’t true. Turns out today’s advanced technology eliminates much of the pain and suffering associated with the treatment of cancer.

Shaping Up

For Carolyn and me, every additional day we’re alive is a gift. A miracle, really. Around us, all life grows more sacred. As does our love for one another.

We’ve each lost 50 pounds in this struggle. [See photo.] We go to bed early now.

Today Carolyn suffers a new and distressing foe, encondroma, a cartilaginous tumor within her right hip. Doctors predicted months ago that severe pain would eventually overwhelm her. That’s now happening. Surgery and rehabilitation will follow. Meanwhile, no skate boarding or bungee jumping allowed.

The good news? Carolyn’s cancer is in partial remission.

And once my oncologist figured out that my rare and incurable bladder cancer is more like a common small-cell lung cancer, under my current therapy of chemo and daily radiation, he now predicts a 20 percent chance of remission.

A presidential pardon couldn’t have been sweeter. A bit of a long shot, perhaps. But hope is once again part of the plan.

So, beginning today, with some help from our friends, Suddenly Senior is starting anew. Chemo brains and all.

Each is distributed by e-mail to about 40,000 readers, and via to hundreds of thousands in 179 countries worldwide. (Not to mention column distribution in up to 83 newspapers syndicating the column every week.)

It’s a big job.

Smart and Funny

Still, treatment renders us feeble; there are days we seldom leave our bed.

So we’ve asked members of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists to help out. Over 30 of these exceptional journalists – top columnists all for newspapers across the country – have pitched in with columns especially for Suddenly Seniors.

When you don’t hear from Carolyn or me you’ll be hearing from someone really smart and funny.

Again, with help from good friends, we plan to expand to include more features our readers have requested over the years including a bulletin board where you can exchange ideas, information, and hope.

And truth.

That’s why Suddenly Senior started in the first place: to tell the truth about getting old – nose hairs, comb-overs, health crises and all. Nobody was doing that in 1999! I don’t know that anyone but Suddenly Senior is doing it today.

I mentioned that we bed early. Truth. We turn on our sweet-sounds music channel and lie in each other’s arms. Every night for most of this past year we’ve given each other sweet, lengthy massages, soothing away the rigors of the day. Most evenings we make love.

Tonight we will be closer and more in love than ever before.

How can this be?

Perhaps the deep and often nagging knowledge that we will not always have this wondrous life. Death will out, after all. But not without a hell of a fight from each of us.

We fall asleep, cuddling, and wake in the morning, laughing to note that we’re still above ground. We give thanks accordingly.



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