October 2nd, 2020, I opened my eyes to see my family friend, the CNO at Spring Valley Hospital, Dr. Sharon Radcliffe, sitting next to me. Trying to say something, wondering why I had so much pain, I attempted to jolt up to feel my throat as it was sore. I couldn't. My hands are in straps on the sides of my bed. I realize I can't close my mouth that I am not breathing on my own. I look down to see tubes coming out of my chest. I was in the surgical ICU at Mountain View Hospital. Tears form, and I start to cry in fear for the first time that I can remember.

24 hours earlier, my last memory was the feeling of the ice-cold surgical board against my back and my eyes squinting at the light above. In a calm, monotone voice, Dr. Warren was to my left and said, "Trust me, I got you," as he placed an anesthesia mask over my mouth.

Things have changed since the day I woke up from emergency surgery. It was as if every born-again protester I passed or person I pissed off who told me to "Go to Hell" got their wish.

I descended into the fire.

Today, I am cancer-free (not in remission yet). While I now carry the surgical scars that saved me, I also hold the experience of fighting something trying to kill me from the inside.

In many ways, I am relieved what I had was cancer. It explains why I felt off for the longest time. I remember back in 2019 after the Boulder City Fourth of July Parade and screaming at the top of my lungs, passing out in my car for 20 minutes. I dismissed it as exhaustion (from the heat), but it was probably the first sign something was wrong. From there, I had so many red flags that I ignored. Constant nose bleeds, fogginess, and continuous coughing- all I wrote off as allergies. For the amount of responsibility I blame for cancer, I assign a lot of it to myself.

Growing up, I learned in the summers out by Lake Erie at Camp Fitch YMCA. Part of the evolution of the YMCA's logo has included the triangle considered the strongest geometric shape, with each side representing a different aspect of identity: mind, body, and spirit. As I underwent six months of chemo, I felt my triangle ripped to shreds to get rid of cancer. Old scars I thought healed pre-chemo opened like fresh wounds again. For the last five months, I have been relentlessly trying to rebuild and, in homage to my summers by Lake Erie, visualized my work as rebuilding my triangle.

It's not the same triangle, and I am not the same person. There are a lot of lessons learned from the experience that I hope to share with time. My goal is to do more open-source work (my career thus far has been proprietary), eventually start a business, and after watching January 6 unfold before my eyes I know I will do everything to defend democracy. I'll use this blog to document what I can as I close this chapter in my life.