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Dave's Blog

The Elephant in the Room

Dave Clark

Hi…thank you for visiting my web page.  Maybe you are visiting because you are a climber, maybe you or a loved one has been diagnosed with lung cancer or maybe you are one of those very special people in my life; for whatever reason you are here, I welcome and thank you.

So first things first- we may as well address the “elephant in the room”.  I have been diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer adenocarcinoma stage IV and I am dying (this is ironically interesting as physically I feel well- one of the many ironies that I’ll be discussing).  More specifically I have an 80% chance of dying this year and the likelihood that I will be alive in four years is 1%.  My intent is not to be startling or to make anyone feel uncomfortable or sorry for me; I have been dealt this hand and it is what it is.  I made the decision that if I am going to advocate for and discuss lung cancer that I would do so openly and honestly.    

I am not certain where this journey is going but it’s going to go somewhere…if you are interested to see where it leads I welcome you to take this journey with me. 

I am not sure why I have appointed myself as a (reluctant) lung cancer advocate but I can assure you that it is not out of arrogance or self-importance.  Frankly I don’t enjoy the spot light, I never have.  I have always preferred to go about things quietly and I wrestle a bit with ‘who am I to think I can lead lung cancer advocacy efforts’ and then I think if not me, then who?  Can I make an impact and does anyone really care about this cancer that carries with it such a stigma?  Yes, I smoked and yes it will be responsible for my death - I own that.  Lung cancer research remains underfunded due to this stigma but I have to ask how many illnesses are the result of human behaviors; obesity, poor diet, alcohol, the list goes on.  Nobody should be blamed for their disease.  We are all human and we have all made our mistakes.  I know that I’ll die, we all will- I just don’t want to die prematurely…I am 51 years old and I want to see and do so many things.  The world is truly a beautiful place.

Next week I begin my efforts to climb the Adirondack 46ers- more to come on that endeavor (I figure if I keep moving one foot in front of the other that I’ll be ok).

If you asked me “how are you, I mean tell me honestly Dave, how are you really doing?”  I would tell you that I am happy.  Sure I have times that I feel sad but they are few and far between.  I feel lucky to be alive one year into this diagnosis- I feel strong mentally and physically and for that I am grateful.  Why am I not one of the 50% of advanced lung cancer patients that hasn’t died this past year?  I don’t know the answer to that question but I do wonder and I do thank karma for allowing me to have enjoyed immensely this past year.  I am looking forward to today and I am looking forward to tomorrow.

As I share my cancer experiences with you there will be tears and there will be laughs…believe me when I tell you that I still laugh often.  I truly enjoy my life, my family, my friends and my work.  I have hope and I wish that whatever your struggles that you have hope as well.   

To Lisa, Kristin, Matt (“Biggs”), “Young” Matthew, Jon, Janie, Emma (“Rosie”) and Scarlet (“Scarlittle”); you are all the reason that I live and breathe; I love you.

Dave (Dad and Pop)