Miles Beneath my Feet: How Will This Change My Life?
Writer Lanny Nelson
Photography Courtesy of Lanny Nelson
Anthem resident Lanny Nelson, known affectionately as “Lan the Running Man,” has logged about 75,000 miles in his running shoes. Recently, he embarked on a new, more challenging journey: surviving prostate cancer. Lanny has chosen to share his battle, and his hope, with our Images Arizona family.
As of this writing, I am seven weeks post-surgery. The news that I had prostate cancer has come and gone. I have been declared cancer-free and I am well on my way to full recovery.
My running shoes are on my feet. Kona, my faithful chocolate lab, is once again ready to go, and together we are back on the trail. My work schedule is also back to normal and I am in the store full time. I sleep well. I eat well. There is no residual pain from the surgery. I am not scheduled for chemo or radiation treatments.
Ordinary life has returned.
But this question—How will this journey with cancer change my life?—keeps knocking on my door. It won’t go away. As I resume my running routine and slide back into that familiar rhythm, I cannot help but reflect on the journey that I have been on for six months. A journey with cancer. In the beginning there was fear. There was unknown territory. Questions. Doubt. Worry. But also hope—and many, many good people.
My journey started in a doctor’s office. The words, “You have cancer,” were spoken to me.
Now, six months later, having come full circle. Sitting in that same office, the words, “You are cancer-free” were spoken to me.
How will this change my life?
While in the hospital, a nurse told me that I should thank both my general doctor and my urologist, because they saved my life. The general doctor noticed a high PSA level in my blood and called for more testing. Since I had no symptoms and no pain, I had no idea that something might be wrong. My urologist found the cancer in my body, and then he removed it.
Had those two people not come into my life, the cancer would have spread undetected into my body, and my life expectancy would have been cut down to five to seven years.
I think back to what I was doing five years ago. Seems like yesterday. If I think about five years ahead, it doesn’t sound like much time. Five years is only 1,825 days. That’s a scary thought, but look what has happened! In the span of six short months, my entire life has changed. I have gone from 1,825 days to—who knows? Maybe 10,000 days. Maybe more.
This is a colossal gift, and I am extremely thankful to have received it. On this journey, I have met others who have not been given this gift. Their time has not been extended. Their hourglass remains the same, and my heart breaks for them.
I have been allowed to start over, to take a closer look at life as if I were experiencing it all for the first time—the people, the sounds, the colors, the movements. Laughter. The sunlight falling on a grandchild’s face. The touch of my wife’s hand on my arm.
Everything is new. This journey has changed me, as it should. It has made me think about what is important—and what is not important.
We hear things like this all the time. It is a common message. Until it happens to you. Until you get to stop and look—and see.
How will this change my life?
The answer is easy.
I have more time to do life better. To love my spouse better. To love my family better. To give better. To listen better. To be more thankful. To show more kindness. To better appreciate the simple joy of watching the sun rise over that same old mountain and to know that I am still breathing, still moving.
Cancer showed up, but then good people showed up at the same time, and they stood beside me as we made the journey. You too can go through this journey and come out on the positive side. If you think you have prostate cancer, for your own benefit get checked up by a urologist, such as Advanced Urology, because catching cancer early is so important. You may not even have prostate cancer, but something I’ve learnt is that there is no harm in checking, and your health matters more than fear, shame or embarrassment.
I am humbled; I am grateful; and I am pressing on. I’m back at it, leaving my footprints on the trail. I’m ready to encourage others to be strong and keep going, because hope is out there—for all of us.