One of my goals for this blog is to show people with CLL that they can have a somewhat normal life (see my About page). Since ‘normal’ is a relative and hard to define term, I thought I should clarify.

Our ‘normal’ is certainly different from those without CLL. We’ll often be more tired and not able to do as much as we did before. If we are having chemo treatments, we’ll be dealing with some not-so-fun side effects. And, of course, there is always the possibility that Leuk my take us out earlier than planned.

But despite all that, we can have a mentally healthy life. A line from the book How God Changes Your Brain reads “Only human beings can think themselves into happiness or despair, without any influence from the outside world.”

The way we think has a profound effect on our experience with Leuk.

I write this blog as if leukemia were a person named Leuk. This gives me a concrete idea of an otherwise quiet, hidden disease. It makes my CLL more real. I have something to fight against. I see Leuk as someone separate from myself; someone I can fight and maybe even conquer.

A war is made up of many battles. Each day Leuk and I fight a battle for my mind.

For me, the first and most important step in fighting Leuk is to keep him from invading my everyday thoughts.  I admit that some days he gains ground, giving me nagging thoughts that bring me down. But mostly I only allow him time when I have to deal with him, then as quickly as I can I push him out of my thoughts, winning that day’s battle.

I strongly believe we can have a normal life if we don’t let Leuk creep too deeply into our minds. Leuk wants us involved in fearful thoughts. But instead, we can live our days involved in life.  We have the choice. We can give our minds over to him or build a protective wall against him. He may be affecting us physically, but we don’t have to let him infect our mind.

It may not seem like it at times, but you really do have a choice. So fight the good fight. Win as many battles as you can. Guard your thoughts. Leuk may be elsewhere in your body, but he has no business treading on your mind.

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I just got my current labs. I’ve added the results to my Score Card page. You’ll see that my white blood cell count continues to rise. My family doctor says it’s serious enough that I should see my oncologist.

So, yet another doctor appointment. I have a feeling I’ll be gracing my doc’s office with my presence more often now. I’ll keep you informed of course.

As far as symptoms go, I’m feeling more tired than usual. I’m not sure if that’s Leuk or just lack of sleep. I’m glad I’m able to work at my part-time business; I don’t think I could handle a full-time job right now.

Though Leuk is hounding me more, my spirits are up – albeit a bit apprehensive. Not to worry though – he still hasn’t knocked my down.

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I just heard that a childhood friend, Shelly, passed away. She had cancer. I’m not sure which kind.

I haven’t seen Shelly since we were kids; her daughter wrote me with the news.

I remember Shelly as a happy girl. Not the kind of silly giddy happy of most teenagers, but a calm, peaceful happy. I don’t know if that calm happiness carried into her adult years. I hope so.

My parents had a resort when I was a kid and her parents would rent a summer cottage from us every year.  I have good memories of playing with her and her brother.

She was taken too soon. Way too soon.

It hits home pretty hard when someone near your own age dies. It makes the whole dying thing more real. I’m reassessing my life and how I’m living it. It’s time for some changes. I don’t know what they will be yet, but I can sense the need for adjustments.

I’m not feeling down or afraid, and I’m not whining. I’m just introspective right now.

Last week I had an ‘episode’ from another health issue I have unrelated to leukemia. It wasn’t life threatening, but it was serious enough to grab my attention.

Some of my priorities need shifting.

If you’re one of my readers who lives with Leuk I hope you aren’t afraid of him. Don’t forget that you have strong allies in Hope and Faith.

Oddly enough, I’m finding that Leuk can be helpful too He helps me focus on making my life worthwhile. I hope he’s doing the same for you.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a blog. My life has been full these last few days and I haven’t taken the time to write.

Well, we finally got the boat underway. My wife and I sailed it north from the marina where we’d launched it to the marina we moor it in. Our cruise took 8 hours. Some of that time was taken up by my ineptitude at sailing. (It’s been awhile.)

We sailed around in circles while I attempted to raise the sails. Why circles? Because I was all thumbs and three left feet. I had prepared the sails in the harbor – which meant it would be much easier to raise them when underway. That was the last smart move I made. All down hill from there.

Out on the water I attempted to raise the mainsail. Standing on deck, holding the mast with one hand to keep from joining the fishes, I pulled on the mainsail line. The sail only went halfway up; one of the clips that’s supposed to slide up the mast, pulling the sail with it, got jammed. I had to pull the sail back down. This took awhile since the stuck clip was arguing with me.

I finally got that fixed and pulled the line hoping the sail would go up. No luck there. Back in the harbor, doing my brilliant make-ready, I’d tied rope around the rolled up sail to keep it snug on the boom while sailing out of the harbor . My brilliance soon faded once in the open water. I forgot about the rope and, though I heaved on the mainsail line, it wouldn’t budge. I finally saw the rope, untied it, and got the mainsail up.

When underway the boat was keeling over to a very steep angle. “I’m a little uncomfortable with this,” my wife said in a seemly calm voice that was actually masking a scream. I’d forgotten about the little hook at the end of the boom that’s supposed to be released once the sail is up. This kept the boom from swinging out which meant the sail was catching too much wind.

Okay, so I fixed that.

Oh, forgot to mention. We had to motor against the current for over an hour (very embarrassing for a sailor). I had problems tacking probably because of the hooked boom problem mentioned above.

The rest of the sail was great. I’d timed our sail through a narrow passage so the current would be in our favor and the wind at our back. Smooth sailing all the way home.

There were actually other problems caused by my mushy brain, but I’ve embarrassed myself enough already.

But really, mistakes aren’t so bad. They make for memories you laugh at later.

I’m enjoying this Summer immensely. Who knows if I’ll be sailing next year. I hope so. But for now life is good and definitely worth living.

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I’ve been struggling to get a VHF antenna mounted atop the mast on my sailboat. The mast is down so no climbing involved (which would have been impossible). I had to run the coax cable through the 40′ mast. I used the stiff wire electricians use to pull electrical wires inside a wall.

Sounds easy right? Well, not so much.

The cable got caught every few feet so I had to walk to one end, push it in a little further then walk back to the other end of the mast and pull, then walk back… It took awhile.

But before all that I had to find the right parts/connectors for VHF type cable. Different salesmen at different stores all had different ideas on what parts I needed. Ater many days, poor advise, and buying the wrong parts, I finally got what I needed.

So, with the antenna attached, cable run, radio mounted I tested it and got the marine weather channel. Since the mast is still down, the antenna is very low so I could only receive that channel. I’m hoping that once we raise the mast the radio will work with more channels. Otherwise I have to redo things – meaning the mast would have to come down!

It was a good day, no dizzies. The boat has given me a good hobby to take my mind off Leuk. I was raised by the sea. I think the salt air is therapeutic for me. Living inland has dried me up a bit.

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