Getting My Ph.D.

Friends and Family,

When I started sharing my cancer journey with you, I had no idea how often I would be telling you about something to celebrate. And yet, here we go again. Who would have believed it?

I just celebrated a milestone that was beyond my comprehension at age 49, when I was first diagnosed. At that age, even reaching 50 seemed a stretch. That’s what makes this milestone such a stunner for me:

I just turned 60. Unbelievable!  

There’s even more meaning in this for me. Both my parents died at the age of 59. By reaching 60, I am breaking the family pattern, sort of a glass ceiling. The closest parallel I can think of is Steve, a guy I just met yesterday, whose parents never went to college. In fact, his father has a sixth grade education. It’s hard to imagine how he could end up getting far in school. So what did Steve do? He got a Ph.D. in Physics. Way to go, Steve!

This feels like my own equivalent: I now have a Ph.D. in Staying Alive.

You wouldn’t know it by how much I now share about myself now, but when this journey started, I disclosed almost nothing personal with anyone except Genevieve. Exposing myself was unfamiliar, and too risky. In fact, the last birthday party I had that included more than family and a couple of friends was when I was five years old.  Inviting more people was waaay too uncomfortable for me. But this occasion meant so much to me, that I took what felt like a big chance.

Genevieve and I reserved a room in a brewpub. I invited friends I grew up with, and family friends going back to childhood, and people I work with, and some survivor friends, and of course, family.  But as a novice to this, I had one giant fear: What if I threw a big party, and nobody came? A big empty room would have been uncomfortable beyond belief.

I am grateful, and honored to say, that didn’t happen.  For me, this was the party of a lifetime! I only wish I had more pictures to remember the day.

Thanks to all of you for celebrating with me. It means more than you can know.



P.S.: We are having the annual Lung Love Run/Walk on Saturday, June 24th at Laurelhurst Park. We would love for you to join our team, Live Lung and Prosper, if for no other reason than it’s a great name. :-)  This year my goal is to have 30 participants, and to raise $3,000.

To join my team or donate, go to