Just Waking Up Each Day Is a Blessing
RUSH: Folks, it occurs to me that I have not spent much time in recent weeks updating you on my medical status, and I’m probably overdue for that, given that it has been while and that these are extremely challenging times for me medically. Nothing that millions of you haven’t gone through or aren’t going through.
And those of you who have or those of you who are going through it, you understand it, and so it’s… (sigh) The temptation here is to start divulging a lot of stuff, and I’m not gonna do that, because I vowed not to be a cancer patient on the radio. I vowed to shield as much of that from the daily program as I can. I guess… I’m in the third wave of treatment now.
There have been many cycles, but this is the third wave, and this current wave, I have to tell you, is kicking my ass. For the last seven days, I have been virtually worthless, virtually useless. I haven’t left the house. I haven’t done much of anything except just try to rest and relax. All of this was told to me; it was gonna be a factor.
I mean, nothing is happening that was not told me to me. Nothing I haven’t been warned about. And this is what I mean by those of you who have gone through this, you know what it is, and it’s just… It’s the cost. It’s the price that you pay if you make the decision to go ahead and do treatment to try to prolong your life. I’m doing extremely well, all things considered, the fact that I’m even here today.
You know, every day… (chuckles) Every day I wake up and the first thing I do is thank God that I did. (chuckles) It is… Just waking up is a blessing. I know many of you are praying daily and nightly. I happen to believe that they work. I believe that they are sustaining me, and I pray for the energy to be able to do this. But I have to be… Folks, I have to be honest.
I do not have the energy that I used to have. I’m gonna have to take this… I didn’t realize until I got sick… I honestly didn’t. You’re gonna think this is strange. I didn’t realize how much physical and mental energy doing these three hours — the way I do them, with no guests — and, you know, I don’t do anything to give myself a break during the three hours to take, not even that many phone calls on a normal basis.
And the amount of energy that it took to do that… A lot of people say, “What you mean? You’re sitting on your butt for three hours.” Yeah, but I guarantee you, folks — and I can prove this with any kind of measurements — my heart rate skyrockets during these three hours. My caloric burn is the highest of the day during these three hours, and the mental aspect of it — which, to me, another name for it is performance pressure.
The compunction I feel to do as well as I can every day — to meet and surpass your expectations — creates demands. And I was unaware of how much it was until this lung cancer diagnosis hit. Now I’m fully aware of it, and I’m aware of my energy limitations, and it’s why I said last Thursday that at any moment we may need to start rolling a best-of show here or guest hosts (which are standing by).
I hope that that doesn’t happen. And I’m not, at the same time, making any excuses. But I do feel the need to keep you informed. As to how the treatment’s going, I have no idea. Well, I do, but it’s not something that… I’m still here, and that’s all that’s important. I can’t and don’t want to divulge any more than that. If I were to go into much greater detail, you know, the media would start researching everything I said.
There would be exposes on what I said, investigations into what I said and whether I was being truthful. I just don’t even want to tempt them with it. But I guess the most accurate thing to say is that I’ve just now begun Week 2 of this third cycle, and each cycle is three weeks, and the impact on the tumor in these three weeks is not expected to be significant.
It’s supposed to take a little longer than that. There has been one particular kind of treatment that works in 97% of patients and did not work in me, and it’s because of a 1% mutation I have that led to my lung cancer in the first place. That 1% mutation is theorized to nullify the second phase of treatment that we tried, throughout…
Even in the first phase where I was in the midst of a clinical trial — stage two of a clinical trial, not even stage three, and these are relatively brand-new drugs. These are the drugs that kept me out of here for two weeks and I didn’t even know where I was. They did a number on the tumor. They shrunk the tumor and related effects. But it would have killed me if I’d have stayed on it.
I would have lost vision in my right eye. I was unable to walk for four days because of muscle swelling and pain from the waist down all the way to the tip of my toes. So I had to get off that stuff. I was on that stuff for I think four weeks, and it bought some time for the next phases to begin, which we are — I am — now in, and I just keep plodding away each and every day.
Does my voice sound weak in there to you guys a little bit? (interruption) Yeah. I sense that too. Hang on a minute. (ahem) Maybe if I clear my throat a little bit more often it won’t sound so bad. That’s… I don’t want to end up sounding bad here and end up being a distraction. (sigh) But there’s so many things about this that I want to share, and I want to say.
And I think one of the first things — I just have to mention this — is I could not be doing this without Kathryn. I have never experienced anybody so selfless. I marvel at her selflessness. I don’t know how she does it. This is as devastating for her as it is me. But she doesn’t allow herself to get down — or, if she does, I don’t see it. She has this ability to immerse herself in other people’s sadness and disappointment and make them feel better. And not with pep talks. Not with things like that.
Just by virtue of her countenance and her being. She is able to appear optimistic, happy. I mean, bouncy on occasion. No complaining. Which is such a blessing, ’cause I don’t know how to deal with people that complain, since I don’t complain much. But the things that she is doing to ease me through this and to make it as less arduous for me that it can be, I’m blessed.
Oh, I know, I know. “Marriage vows. Sickness and in health.” But you know as well as I do that in a lot of circumstances like this, some people look for the door and look through the rearview mirror. And not only has that not happened, as I say, she has immersed herself in my treatment and in my care, being the advocate for me wherever we end up going for treatment and all of that.
I really shudder to think what this would be like if she weren’t doing what she’s doing, if she weren’t who she is, if she weren’t there. I wouldn’t have the… I don’t have it in me to ask somebody else to do it. And — as those of you know who’ve been through this — you can’t do all of the things that you need to do by yourself. As I say, I wake up in the morning and the first thing I realize is I’m alive (chuckles), and I immediately thank God for it.
Because you just never know. Now, for those of you who ask, “What is this all about?” We got new listeners. I know. You may not know it. I was diagnosed in January, January 20th, with advanced-stage lung cancer, and we began a bunch of preparations for that kick-ass clinical trial treatment that I was gonna be in. They had to give me eye tests and make sure that I was physically strong enough to withstand/handle what they were gonna throw at me.
‘Cause everybody knew the toxic component of this, hoping and praying… In fact, they couldn’t believe I got four weeks out of it. To tell you the truth, the doctors couldn’t believe I made it four weeks. They kept calling. Every other day they’d call Kathryn, “How’s he doing? How’s he doing?” She’d say, “Fine so far.” They’d be surprised that it hadn’t started any massively negative side effects sooner than that.
So that, no doubt, bought us some time. Don’t know how much. But my intention… As I said back then, my intention is to be here as often as I can. My attitude is this, and the reality is, the day is gonna come where I’m not gonna be able to be here. I don’t know when that is — and I’m hoping that it is months, years.
I’m hoping that the current cycle that we’re in does its magic and starts working on the tumor as the clinical trial drugs did. But, regardless, the day is gonna come where it isn’t gonna be possible to be here every day — and who knows? It may not be possible to be here for three hours every day. I think I’ll be fine today. So, I look at this: Any chance to do the show, I’m gonna take it.
If I wake up and realize I’m still alive and thank God for it, the next thing is, “Okay, can I go to work today?” If I can, I need to get as many in as possible, because this is one of my primary loves in life — and you in the audience are the reason that this love of my life has been so extraordinarily happy and successful. It would not have happened without you.
And so there is a desire to be here every day to talk about all this rotgut going on out there. By the way, with so much of it, your host is being validated as being 100% correct.
RUSH: I got several emails during the first hour with questions about my physical condition, and it’s one of the reasons I didn’t divulge a whole lot of detail. There are many reasons why I don’t do that. A, privacy. B, media doing investigations. If I were to give you the name for what I have, you would not believe I’m still here, after you looked it up — and that’s another reason why I’m not divulging the actual name.
But one of the interesting emails I got was, “You have lung cancer. It sounds like you can breathe okay.”
Ha-ha-ha, folks. I occasionally go through shortness of breath. There are measures that, so far, work to alleviate it. But there are days I can’t take five steps without having to stop and sit down, and I can’t carry anything of any significance — like a briefcase — when those episodes of shortness of breath are happening. But we’ve got a handle on it. We found a way to limit them in terms of how often they happen and what the duration of the symptoms are.
But, oh, yeah. I mean, that’s one of the classic symptoms of what I have. But so far, just so you know, I’m able to function. I wouldn’t say that I’m… I can’t play golf. I wouldn’t be able to do that or any other outside what might be considered strenuous or less strenuous activity. Look, what I basically have accepted is that during this phase of the treatment — and probably the next — not gonna feel what I always thought of as normal.
And, in fact, in this whole process, the last time I felt normal, I told you about it. It was when I went off the clinical trial drugs after they nearly wiped me out. I was off of those for nearly three weeks to get them out of my system before starting on the next cycle. And during those three weeks — and you people who have done this will know exactly what I’m talking about.
During those three weeks with no treatment — meaning no cancer medicine — I felt normal, as normal and as good as I can remember feeling. So good and so normal, I told you about it. But I have come to accept that those days are long gone. But that’s okay. Everything is about adapting, and we humans are the only species that have that ability to adapt to whatever our surroundings are.
“What do you mean by that? You keep putting down…” No. All I mean is that a parrot cannot build a house to shelter itself from the rain. Now, it can try to shelter itself underneath existing tree branches and leaves and so forth, but only humans have the ability to adapt. A gorilla will never be able to invent air-conditioning to make his life better in the jungle.
That’s what I mean by adapting.
So, I have this given set of circumstances, and I have to adapt to them and part of the adaptation is being honest with myself about what I can and can’t do and then zeroing in on what I want to make sure that I can continue to do that I like doing for as long as I can. And that happens to be the purpose of the treatment. The purpose of the treatment is to make the patient feel as good as possible for as long as possible.
That’s the target. That’s the objective. (interruption) No, no. I never thought this was gonna happen to me. Who does? But… Well, I guess maybe some people do. But, no, I never did. Anyway, I appreciate all of the questions and the prayers and the interest that you’ve all shown. Believe me, it’s over the top. It’s inspiring just to read your notes and to get the feedback from all of you.
I sincerely and deeply appreciate it.