This last February, all came to a screeching halt as I was diagnosed with Cholangiocarcinoma (CC)- aka Bile Duct Cancer. My diagnostic path started as a result of finding with high calcium in my blood work during a routine physical examination. I had no other symptoms. CC is a silent killer, much like pancreatic cancer. The diagnostic path took about 6 weeks – it was a gut wrenching time for my family.
In the aftermath of my diagnosis, I began sharing updates about my medical situation on Caring Bridge – https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/mikeshane2 . My posts started out as a way to update people about my health situation, those posts have become a cathartic way for me to express what is going on to this loving group of friends and family that follow the page. I have found that I really enjoy writing. I reserve my Caring Bridge page primarily for my medical situation. On this page, I will post about my life, thoughts, feelings and experiences, extending beyond the medical details of my cancer journey.
This last weekend, Felice and I were at a wedding in Chicago. It was great being away from the hospital setting and seeing so many friends at a happy occasion. Nothing better than seeing two, wonderful young people starting their lives out together, especially when I’m not picking up the bill!
RIght now, we’re finishing up a great week at Elkhart Lake, WI. I share a family home with my sister. Our grandchildren represent the 6th generation of Shane’s to experience the EL. My grand parents met when they were teenagers while both were vacationing here with their parents. Since then, it has become a Shane family sanctuary, with generations of shared memories. I have spent time in Elkhart every summer of my life.
The village of Elkhart Lake is very small and quaint with a year round population of less than 1,000. There is one 4-way stop in town – no stop lights. The village has a number of restaurants, a couple resorts, a decent public golf course. The lake is amazing. It’s small enough that you can’t get lost on the lake on a jet ski (yeah, I’ve gotten lost on another lake before), yet big enough to zip around in a boat or jet ski, sail or ski. It is approximately 300 acres, 2 square miles and depths up to 120’. The lake is spring fed, clear, refreshing water – totally awesome. Sometimes our days start out with a walk, sometimes there’s golf. The afternoons are spent at the pier.
This year, my neighbor inspired me to try remote control sailing. My neighbor, Bill Easom, is the head of the sailing club and made an effort to get people interested in racing remote control sail boats. I figured, hell yeah, sounds like a good time. When I was a kid, I used to sail a small sail boat all the time on the lake, always enjoyed it, although I never have referred to myself as an accomplished sailor. That was proven once on a family trip to Jamaica, with our friends, the Doner’s. We decided to rent a couple small Catamaran’s. As we’re getting instruction, the instructor was very clear to avoid going to the west because of the prevailing winds. The Doner’s hop on their boat and take off like pro’s. We took off and almost immediately were struggling, very quickly heading off to the west and failing in every attempt to correct. We were drifting into breakers and there was no getting back. The safety boat had to come out and rescue us. We were never in any danger, just looked like total idiots as we were rescued and led us back to the shore to take the walk of shame. I never have heard the end of that!
Remote control sailing sounded like a great pastime with when I’m hanging in the shade at the pier, so I ordered the specified kit to put together the boat. This assembly was far more work that I thought it would be. Not only were there really small lines for all of the sheeting, rigging lines, etc., but I had to be able to see in order to make the knots and thread lines through bowsies, deck eyes and other eyelets controlling the mainsheet and Jib boom.
I spent hours and hours trying to perfect the boat, which is named, Flo. I completed the final touches after we arrived here. The boat looks awesome – it was time to sail! The first experience was ok. The wind on the lake was very calm and the boat appeared to be put together correctly. It wasn’t until I tried my 5th run that I finally conceded that the Jamaican experience wasn’t an anomaly. Each subsequent attempt required a rescue. Bill was very patient in helping me tighten my ‘trim’ (sailor speak for setup). I had everything working right. Time for another shot. There was lots of wind, which created a bit of a challenge, but she was riding great. I struggled to make good turns and control the boat. I sent my son-in-law, Adam, out on a rescue mission. When he brought the boat in, it was his turn to take over the controls. He appeared to be heading into the middle of the lake also, so I hopped on the jet ski to prepare to rescue the boat. Candidly, I was feeling a bit vindicated. I had failed several times, my son, Jordan was unable to master the skill either, and now Adam was proving that this is a skill to learn over time, on calmer days. As I approached the boat, it had already turned about and was moving smoothly. Adam was getting the hang of it. I hovered around the boat for several minutes to assure that he was ‘ok’. He then started weaving the boat through a group of kayaker’s and it was clear that he definitely was getting the hang of it. I took a spin around the lake on the jet ski, figuring that I would likely need to rescue the boat when I came back. By the time I returned to the pier, Adam had landed the boat. So now we know the boat is operating correctly, clearly an operator issue. I’m not giving up though!
Mike #cancersucks #ShaneStrong