Friday, May 30, 2008

Face It. Fight It. Survive It.

Throughout my battle with cancer, I have come to the conclusion that there really are only two possible decisions I could have made when I received my diagnosis. Back in December of 2007, I was told about the head and neck cancer along with the rough road I would take in order to survive. At this point, I was faced with basically halting everything that was in motion and laying it all down to fight for my life.

The two choices I had to plot the rest of my time here on the planet was to give up or find the will to fight cancer. Thinking about my family, the decision was a simple one- I was not going out without a fight. That is what is so important to new patients getting diagnosed with head and neck or other cancer. You have to fight for your loved ones, family, friends and colleagues. Giving up is not an option. It is not an easy decision to make, but you will never regret fighting as it gives you more time with the treasure we have here on earth, the love we have in our families and friends. As I found out, nothing I owned, lost, earned or gave up is worth more than the love you have for your family, their love for you and the blessing of true, good friends.

The first few days were tough, the rest of them tougher. The fight plan I had included staying creative doing what I loved- graphic design and creating electronic music. Many days, I was simply too tore up to participate, but I tried to at least have fun, think about the creative process (which kept me from thinking too much about the side effects) and generally, stay positive. My family were like angels who had a safety net open for me and kept me in the fight. It was nothing I did for myself physically, it was the momentum of caring supplied by my Home Team that made each day bearable, livable and one for the survivor books. I will be glad to answer any questions you may have regarding any of this, I realize this is all very generic and vague, so please send along your questions or other dialogue.

The fight during cancer treatment for me was just as simple as a daily effort in overcoming nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, chemo brain constipation, diarrhea, not being able to swallow, mucositis, dry mouth, scratchy throat, no saliva, pain, no appetite, weight loss, hair loss, some neurological issues and other nasties with my surgery. It wasn't an epic battle at dawn with Megatron but a daily, if not hourly overcoming of the nasties. That's it. I fought from my bed and chair with a bunch of meds and as much nutrition as I could get down. No Transformer weapons of light sabres, just a daily commitment to Face It. Fight It. Survive It. For me, that's been enough. Day by day it gets better and I get a bit stronger. I wish all the other fighters and survivors strength and courage in their battle! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Love Continues to Beat the Clock

Some poetry I wrote to start the day:

A guitar drone
a cylinder pulled
from a ticking machine
reminders that time
drips and seeps between
the cracks of
eyelids drying on
to grit

The love and moments of connection we have with our family, lovers and dearest friends are alive in a timeless and eternal part of life that is beyond time. While this may be perceived as memory, I have to believe that the energy of these connections in which love is the guiding force, continues. They are moments out of time and beyond it. What we share in sincerity, honesty and love cannot be tied to a clock or calendar. We can take these memories with us to our last days and they remain as fresh and alive as the moment they blessed our lives. Time as a way to mark hours and years is relevant for a body's work, but not for spirits whose love lives on in life.

How do you see your love continuing? Do you think love is bound by time like everything else?

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Music Track- Ching Theory

Introducing 'Ching Theory' an original music track I made for the pure joy of it. This is the first in a series of posts that will have some original electronic music. I think it is important to create from life experience and when inspiration and creativity strike. Listen to the
after the jump.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Summer Refresh at Psiplex

Psiplex  Logo New for Summer

New for Summer! Psiplex has an updated new look for Summer. As Psiplex grows into a focus on staying creative in complexity, I wanted the logo to reflect this direction a bit better than the 'Alien Pal. Don't worry, Alien Pal is still a part of Psiplex. I intend to have the Alien Pal represent the electronic music offerings coming out in the next few months.

The new logo is based on having a more identifiable online presence as well as representing the Psiplex concept in a less abstract way. The two combined forms of the letter 'P' show balance but at an angle that suggest movement- kind of like moving through complexity to get to your goal.

AlienPal logo from Psiplex_Original
The Alien Pal mark was a real abstract thought that kind of just happened. I was playing around in Adobe Illustrator about 5 years a go when this thing just kind of formed itself. I kept it in a folder and always thought it might look good on a t-shirt or something. when I started the Psiplex blog back in February of this year, the Alien Pal seemed to work at the time as my whole cancer experience was alien and complex.

As Summer dawns and things grow and change, so too will the Psiplex experience. As my beat-up body slowly recovers from the nastiness of the chemotherapy and radiation therapy in my battle with cancer, I want to put more effort into the creative aspects of life. This means reaching out to folks who are going to be facing the same battle I faced. There is nothing more important to me now than to be of service to other cancer patients. My new phrase for this is:
Face it. Fight It. Survive it
”. So what's next? Learning more about being an advocate for those in need, creating original electronic music I can share with you and getting better physically, mentally and emotionally. Continue work on other offerings like the
(Tees, Caps and Gifts, oh my!) Would love to see your comments, suggestions/rants/other on the new logo.

Friday, May 23, 2008

6 Key Points On Personal Struggle

Anyone confronting a large enough life change is going to have to do some life arranging. Nothing will teach you more about your core than a life changing fight. In health, in business, in family matters in sport, struggles make the person, the battle, the war. Here are six key takeaways about what personal struggle can teach you.

6. We're All Mental. When it comes to struggle, we all have our mental capabilities to pass the test. Whether you choose a fight or a fight chooses you, you are only human. Your mental attitude toward the struggle will beat you into the dirt or you will emerge to fight another day. The mental aspect leaves you clear enough to gauge the situation and overcome it. Too much mental anguish defeats you, not enough mental mettle causes fear and defeat. Up to you.

5. Call For Backup. The love and support of family and friends never fails. Getting through a struggle means circling the wagons and bringing in supportive people that know you, understand you and believe in your success with no reservations. No shame in asking for help- it makes you stronger.

4. Creation. Staying creative in the complexity of struggle is a testament to #6 and #3. Your ability to remain adaptive and open to solutions, even if they seem far fetched, gives you a whole new set of tools to win. Sometimes, you just have to invent a solution and pave your own road.

3. Evolution. Being able to stretch past your former or present boundaries means changing who you are a little or a lot. A struggle presents you with a 50/50 chance of getting beat or working hard enough to win the struggle.
The little steps you take toward winning eventually pile up and you evolve into the mindset of a winner. The struggles themselves do not cease, your ability to rise above them does. Little steps=eventual success.

2. You Have to Walk That Road All By Yourself. At age 12, sitting with my Dad in our basement, talking about his career as a carpenter, he gave me this bit of wisdom. He tended to work about 70 hours a week in hard Norther Pennsylvania winters and summers. Physical labor, privation, long commutes to job sites and dealing with all sorts of characters made him one tough hombre. He turned to me and said he couldn't fight my battles for me. Not that he wouldn't or did not care to, but in life, it was up to me to face my struggles. Point taken and never forgotten.

1. Stay On Offense But Survive. In survival mode, you are not taking ground, you are in most likelihood, giving ground to survive. Do what the game plan calls for, survive by all means, but get in there and take some ground.

Share your thoughts and experiences with struggle- I would like to see some inspiration. Have a safe and fun holiday!

The Emperor's New Throat

One of the truly annoying side effects of cancer radiation on my neck was the toll it took on my throat, voice and salivary glands. As I slowly paddle out of the rip-tide of treatments, my croaky voice and choked up throat are in need of some healing. If you didn't know it was me calling you on the phone, you would think I was somebody's drunk grandfather. Slurring and hoarsely attempting to dialogue, I sound more like a prank caller than an actual dude trying to say what what.
Oh it will pass, but for a minute, I'm going to confuse a whole lot of folks with this disguise. If I didn't know what I was saying, I couldn't pick up enough whispered syllables to comprehend direction or intent. Especially after the long, tortured dust-dry coughs between barely audible words. What comes across is a vulgar sort of neo-geezerism. The poor medical assistant at my doctors struggled through my heinous rasp-o-phone yesterday. Bless her, she finally figured it out. I really appreciate the patience of others in these croaky chokey times.

I am imbibing Magic Mouthwash to soothe and cool my lava-fired pipes. The MM is supposed to ease the feelings of razor blades and barbed wire that describes my esophageal lining. That's what I was calling the doctors for, some kind of relief for the wildfire and pinched pipes. The charred remnants of my once golden tones will return some bright sunny day, but now them tubes are stone dry, snake scaly and zombified. I used to do commercial voice-over work. Glad I don't have to put bread on the table now with my scuttled squawker.

Now it's me, the morning and a little Magic Mouthwash to start the day off right. To those about to choke, I salute you!

You can always e-mail or text, just don't have me call you on your shiny Curve or iPhone with this franken-voice. Wouldn't mind hearing your comments though!

Checking e-bay now for an emperors' new throat with refurbished pipes and warbler. Wonder how much to ship it overnight?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

All Things New

The grueling, long. shadowy road of the main cancer treatments are over. The first day of the rest of my days begins this day. Slept quite badly with the lingering mucositis/phlegm nastiness from the radiation therapy and dry gulch sandpaper throat. Lovely, I must admit. That bit of discomfort melts in favor of todays sunrise. This is the first day of real recovery. No chemo infusion, no radiation, no surgeries to attend horizontally and comatose, no trips to hospital admissions and the army of coughing people. No blood pressure cuffs, no tongue dispensers, no probing, IV's, nausea medication, no checking the calendar for which doctor appointment at which office.

Instead, in the cool May Atlanta morning, I ventured outside with my skinny legs to walk and breathe the fine air of freedom from treatment and celebrate recovery. A stroll in the early morning sunrise with the sounds of Atlanta commuting for their daily bread. The birds sung me home to enjoy some private time with you. I blended up a fine breakfast shake of vanilla ice cream, vanilla instant breakfast, fresh, cold milk, with a cup of mixed fruit. Freedom is indeed sweet.

I am thankful for all of those good people who directed my path to this day. There's a lot of thanksgiving ahead.

One Love

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cancer Radiation Mask

It's a war souvenir. A lightweight plastic mesh mask that I used for 44 days undergoing radiation therapy for head and neck cancer. Each morning, I wore this mask so that the radiation treatment could precisely target my cancer. Starting off as a flat sheet, the meshed surface was run under hot water and applied to my face. The mask hardened into the shape you see in the image. You can make out the profile of my face contour at the top of the picture where the neck and chin starts at the left . The mask is fitted with clamps that bolt to the treatment table so each treatment can be targeted precisely to the individual. It also keeps you from moving and screwing up the treatment session. See photos of the radiation treatment mask.

Today, I brought it home with me to show what this part of the cancer treatment is like for others who may be needing it.

At this juncture of the treatment, there is light at end of the funnel. At first, I couldn't see an end to the series of chemo, surgeries and radiation treatments. It was like a big upside down funnel over my life blackening the sun. As the treatments progressed, the funnel righted itself and I began to see cracks of daylight streaming through the top. Today, I have passed a milestone. The funnel is getting out of the way and the blue sky and sun are kicking in.

Today, the radiation treatment is complete. Forty-four days of it. Now I have a war souvenir to remind me of the ordeal. Now the real recovery begins.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Other Side of Midnight

Surviving your own stupidity and the apathy of others teaches that there is more to life than a false bravado and a reputation for being a rock star. Life is less about what is printed than the imprint we make. Win or fail, we eventually find out it is far better to find healing and move away from darkness and our own sense of invincibility.

While we are capable of sustaining enormous amounts of bodily abuse, there is no purpose in pursuing the glorification of self to this end. Awareness of our capabilities should be tempered with our duty to our loved ones and those who need our help. An act of sincere kindness toward another living thing is a step in the right direction. You could gain some wisdom in return.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

All Business Plus

During the last six months of learning I had head and neck cancer, I am recounting how all the key caregivers along the way have guided me toward beating the disease and surviving the treatments. Not to bore you with the details in past posts of the ordeal, there were some life changing adaptations that took place. The most memorable of the bits and bobs of the entire treatment process were the series of professional caregivers, doctors and nurses, oncologists and med techs I encountered. I really remember each and everyone of the people who aided in my battle. In my estimation, there were primarily two kinds of folks: All Business and All Business Plus.

The All Business people were just that. I remember my first confrontation with the diagnosis (I fainted). The All Business oral surgeon who did the biopsy knew within 2 minutes of examining the x-rays and looking at my tongue that I had squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Being the All Business type-he told me directly in a no B.S. fashion (much appreciated in hindsight) what I had. This lead me to another wonderful doctor who is an ear, nose and throat surgeon specializing in head and neck cancer. Another All Business type, he told me that I could be looking at a complete tongue removal, neck surgery (radical neck dissection to remove the cancerous lymph nodes) and chemotherapy. I didn't faint. My resolve at this point was to fight like a tiger for every hour, day and month I could get. This doctor performed an incredible operation with the neck dissection that left me with a lot more nerves and feelings in my back, shoulders, arms, face and neck than expected. Clean and almost bloodless, his incredible skill had me on the fast track to healing. His All Business approach was a lifesaver. He also has a pretty cool sense of humor and busted my stones fairly regularly- Upgrade to All Business Plus. As it turns out, the chemotherapy shrunk my tongue SCC enough so that I could keep it.

The next step was to meet with the gastrointestinal specialist who inserted my feeding tube (PEG Tube). She was wonderfully humorous and is definitely an All Business Plus. She made the process very smooth and prepared me for when I couldn't at due to chemo and radiation therapy.

The PEG tube itself was fine, but I had a harsh reaction to having a cold nutrition supplement to drink when I returned home. Apparently, drinking something cold right after the surgery was a bad move. Back to the emergency room and another hospital stay. The folks in the EMT were all business. The folks at the emergency room were dolts and left me in pain for almost an hour. I could hear nurses and doctors and med tech walking around outside this hole of a room for the entire hour chatting joking and generally in no hurry. All the while I was doubled over and nearly passing out from pain. Maybe a third category is needed here- Epic Fail. Yeah, these buttnuggets were the worst of it. Bad dispositions, bad work ethic, I-don't -have-to-care-because-they're-not-paying-me-enough-to-care 'tudes really ruined my day. Saved by the gastro surgeon who put me right once more.

Back to the oral surgeon for teeth extraction so the radiation can proceed smoothly. All Business! The preparation for the next stage was set.

The chemo oncologist and his staff were wonderful. All Business Plus kudos for the way they handled my initial crazy situation and for taking me through the treatment with confidence and professionalism. My initial reaction to the chemo sent me to the emergency room for what appeared to be a heart attack / heart muscle damage caused by the 5-FU chemotherapy drug.

Turns out my heart was fine, but the reaction to the 5-FU mimicked the heart damage. The EMT folks who slung me into the ambulance were All Business. The triage emergency room folks were too. The first set of emergency room goons get the Epic Fail again. After another ordeal with bufoonery, I met a new set of Epic Fail buttnuggets the first night. As I was throwing up every 10 minutes and shivering uncontrollably, I lost the feeling in my arms and couldn't walk. I was in such misery, I wished I was dead. There were two rude-ass nurses. One was a ginormous, hideous crone that must have had a relative in HR. No way could she have got through the hiring process with that level of inhumanity. Why they scheduled her to help ER patients in severe pain, I'll never know. She was reported and reprimanded and the rest of stay was really helpful and good. The caregivers that cared for me the week in ICU were All Business Plus. They genuinely cared about me and were very, very kind. They went out of their way to check on me and give me hope for recovery when I was skin, bones and bad attitude.

After this came the insertion of my chest port. The surgeon was All Business- nice enough fellow, just didn't say a whole lot.

Back to the chemotherapy folks- can't say enough good things here. From the techs who drew blood to the rest of the staff- All Business Plus.

The next group were the home care nurses- All Business Plus. They genuinely cared about how I was doing and made themselves available for my calls anytime I needed some solution or had a question.

The radiology doctor is All Business Plus. Great sense of humor and a no BS approach. The staff at the radiation clinic is All Business. One young lady is super cool- a true All Business Plus. If it wasn't for her refreshing attitude and sunny smile and disposition, this part of the treatment would suck really hard. Her kind words of encouragement, ready smile and get it done attitude is the best I've seen in the entire process.

I didn't mention all the family and friends that contribute to my daily joy. I'll post more on them a bit later. They deserve some special love and maybe some medals for putting up with me. Go team!

What I learned from this experience is that some All Business people are really there for your own good. They may not smile or speak or act friendly all the time, but they are the key people who saved me from an early grave. As I was circling the drain with stage IV SCC in mid-December, 2007, I am now bouncing back a bit this third week of May and will continue to improve. The All Business folks really took care of business. The All Business Plus folks made this ordeal less nightmarish, less frightening and provided hope that one day, I would get through treatment and recover. While this is a life process, I can thank them for their support above and beyond the call. All it takes really, are some sincere kind words, a pat on the back and a joke to make a cancer patient's life a little better. For the Epic Fail buttnuggets, you need to know this now. You may one day be where I was- weak, broke, sick, stressed out and dying. Would you want you to be your care provider? Be kind, life is too short and too precious to muck up.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Just Radiant—Undergoing Radiation Treatment

March was the first full week of 6 + main and 2 weeks booster radiation treatments for my head and neck cancer. This is an external radiation treatment, some are internal using 'seed's implanted next to various organs or tumor areas in the body. Radiation facts are important to factor into your treatment.

What can someone expect from radiation treatment? Well, for one, it helps not to be claustrophobic, anxious or timid about getting in there and getting it done. CancerCompass has the 3 types of basic treatments outlined.

The claustrophobic part comes from getting measured for a special mask that is used to precisely tailor the radiation to the treatment area of your head or neck. If you are claustrophobic let your doctor/specialist and the radiology technicians know before this portion of your treatment begins. It's better to deal with it and get started as quickly as possible. A little discomfort shouldn't prolong the radiation treatment for your head and neck cancer. The combination of chemotherapy and radiation in combination is sometimes prescribed to shrink and eliminate any cancer tumors.

The mask starts out as a flat special plastic sheet that when heated under hot water, conforms to your face. This is kind of like having a hot towel placed over your face, then pressed on until you almost feel the first layer of skin burning. The nurse technicians are very careful not to let you get too uncomfortable. You get a soft plastic mouth protection device which like the kind athletes use to protect their teeth. This is used because the mask and clamping puts a lot of pressure on the jaws. The mask is extremely tight. It also keeps your jaws and mouth in the right position for treatment. The mask has 4 or more clamps that align to the treatment table so you can be placed in the exact position each time. Your head is clamped to the table and you are not able to move. The radiotherapy machine is moved into position around you for treatment. This helps to concentrate the radiation on your specific head and neck area. Additional measurements and film are taken at regular intervals (usually every third treatment) to ensure you are getting the precise beam alignment on your body.

The main series of radiation treatments will focus on one or more fields that segment the cancerous areas in a methodical approach to reducing them. After the main series comes a 'booster' series (if requested by the attending Oncologist) that are reduced fields and reduced radiation. This ostensibly prevents any future cancer from recurring in those treated areas. This ostensibly prevents any future cancer from recurring in those treated areas. Getting nutrition by mouth may become a problem. I opted to get a PEG tube in my stomach to get nutrition throughout my treatment.

There are some harsh side effects form the radiation. Of course, every person's treatment will vary as well as the side effects. In the case of my base of tongue and lymph node cancer, the biggest detriment to joy was the continual mucositis which is really rough. The radiation dries up salivary glands which leads to dry mouth, a 'stone' lodged in the throat (tightness and sandpaper-like feelings along with a Sahara dryness that makes you choke). Also, if you've ever had strep throat, multiply that by 5 times and you get the general idea of how sore your throat can become. The irritation and inflammation alone are crazy, combined with the torrent of phlegm caused by the radiation is enough to make a person want to quit on the stool. The important thing is to keep going. Quitting will only ensure your cancer will still be there. Keep pushing through the treatment and things will eventually get better. The redness on the exterior of my neck and jaws were kind of like a 1st degree burn. The radiation filed on one side of the neck often seeks an exit point. So little splotches of bright red appeared on my neck. You also lose the hair on the treatment area. Sometimes it grows back, sometimes not. Another side effect in my case was that my taste buds went buh-bye. Yep, everything tasted like wet, slimy cardboard. They say it comes back, but at a rate of one month for every week of radiation.

This is some harsh stuff, but your life is in the balance. Go through it and your loved ones and family will be forever thankful. You have to prepare for battle in dealing with your cancer treatment. You have to find the will to fight. You can do it!

A little Morning Poetry, Lefty

Wanted to share a bit of poetry I wrote. This piece is called “Lefty” and is just a brain wave induced by musicality and a laid back time in Pittsburgh.

I played lefty
'till my right hand
was a stranger
a salsa trumpet
in 7/8
skittering 7/8
the scales ladder steps
oily and smooth
up, up the blue side
of morning

Putting something creative together each day when you are facing life complexities makes you realize that it ain't all bad. There's an end in sight for lousy times and the opportunity for celebration and life once more.

Been playing around with a fun piece of software called iDrum by iZotope. It is a free-standing or insertable drum machine that is a blast to tweak and mess with. Here is how iZotope's web site describes it:

“iDrum turns your Mac or PC into a powerful, simple-to-use virtual drum machine. Build patterns with iDrum's lightning-fast step sequencer, using included kits or your own samples. From ambient downtempo to bangin' hip hop to frenetic drum & bass, iDrum's got you covered.” Here is screenshot of the innterface- very easy to get started!


You can make and save your own patterns very easily and you can also add more sample sounds from iZotope. They also have a bunch more softare plugins for folks creating electronic music. If you are creating original electronic music – send along some links for us to check out.

One Love.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cancer Resource Links

I wanted to pass on some useful cancer treatment/survivorship/assistance supplemental links I recently encountered with the hopes that you may find them timely and useful. This is by no means a complete list, just a jumping off point to quickly gather information and learn more about available supplemental cancer resources. There are more links throughout the rest of the Psiplex blog, just scroll down or click the labels on the right.

Recovering After Cancer Treatment

Eating well and keeping active after cancer treatment can help you recover and may help keep the disease from coming back. Read this informative and useful article from Christus Spohn Health System.

Corporate Angel Network arranges free travel on corporate jets for cancer patients, bone marrow donors and bone marrow recipients, as long as they:

• Travel to or from an approved* cancer treatment center
• Are able to walk up and down the steps to a private plane without
• Do not require oxygen, IV or any other form of life support during the

Financial Assistance for Those in Need

A variety of organizations and programs provide services such as transportation to treatment, access to medications or lodging, or other necessities. One or more of the services below may be able to provide some relief. The Cancer and Careers web site has a list of links that can help.

Filing For Disability

Cancer may progress from a medical crisis to a disability--and sometimes very quickly. Whether your disability from cancer is expected to be short-term or long-term, knowing the differences and being aware of how to apply for each type of disability benefit can go a long way in easing psychological and financial distress.

Law Help

Having free legal aid in dealing with all the complexities of a major illness like cancer can be a relief in times of crisis. Law Help provides services in many states. For free legal aid referrals and information, choose your state

Disability Rights Legal Center

The Cancer Legal Resource Center (CLRC) is a joint program of the Disability Rights Legal Center and Loyola Law School. The CLRC provides free and confidential information and resources on cancer-related legal issues to cancer survivors, their families, friends, employers, health care professionals, and others coping with cancer. A cancer diagnosis can carry with it a variety of potential legal issues, including insurance coverage, employment discrimination, access to health care, and estate planning. These legal issues can cause people unnecessary worry, confusion, and stress, and can be overwhelming. When these legal issues are not addressed, people may find themselves surviving the disease, only to find that they have lost their homes, jobs, insurance, or families.

Please check my previous posts on this page for other helpful links in dealing with cancer.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Private War: Ready Like a Soldier

Through most of this battle with cancer, the main focus has been to hang onto and grow the creative part of my life as a graphic artist and electronic musician. Each day I come to the computer or the keyboard is another day that I get to to go up against the biggest threat to my life and my purpose. Everyday I can put in even a few moments of creative time, is a chance to be embrace life. On days when it is physically impossible to be up and around, I envision a creative project like what I will do to make a beat, or design a graphic. Like a terrorist strike, cancer invades and threatens every aspect of what is your essential self. Like a soldier, you have to meet the threat, contain it, and destroy the invasion for good.

In these series of brutal battles fought on the landscape of my mortal coil, I had overwhelming support from my family and friends. Sure, there were the fair-weather friends who decided it wasn't convenient to interact with me anymore. Maybe I wasn't too much fun, ya know? But the strategic support my loved ones provided armed me for the conflict. As the days merged into weeks, then months, the unfailing support and love keep coming. While I am most decidedly not the same person I was 6 months ago, I have gained a new appreciation for life and for the pure joy of being alive and being thankful. Get up, go out to engage the threat and beat it back each and everyday. Gather resources for your fight – knowledge is critical.

Just one thing though — sometimes the soldier is cut off from his company and must fight completely independent and away from support. No one can hold your hand 24 hours a day. In essence battling cancer is a private war. You are invaded by the cancer and it is a life changing invasion. You will or will emerge victorious based on a number of physical and mental factors. No one can win this private war in some of the mental battlefields it will be fought in. You are the only one who can face these hand to hand fights as they come. Faced with being taken off the planet can do wonders for being skittish before the big battle.

The various physical challenges and side effects faced each day must be brought into the big picture of survival. Sure, your chemotherapy is making you sick, your hair is falling out, your weight is plummeting, you're not able to work, your daily routines shredded. Sometimes it is an hourly struggle to face the side effects of the cancer drugs and a daily cross to bear. This is the private war, this is where the war will be won. Only you can summon what it takes to defeat the negative mental state this disease brings. Your family and loved ones can give you all the support in the world, but you have to face this fight in a lot of little ways on your own. If you are not ready to do this, if you are not ready to command yourself on the battlefield, you better learn fast.

Each day you handle some detail of your battle, your treatment and recovery, you are winning. Not only do you give yourself an edge, you brighten the spirits of those around you. You can't learn to be fearless from anyone but yourself. Sometimes, you have to go into battle with fear, just get up and go. Survivorship is the goal in your private war. You will come out on the other side and have a new appreciation for living and those you love. Until then, be ready like a soldier.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Earth Combo Coming Right Up

What does the future hold? An earth combo of the very best and the very worst of life. As we stand right now there lies before us the possibility of choosing from the most pleasurable pursuits that our senses can manage and having the utmost destruction visited upon us. We balance our lives by surviving the later and pursuing the former. This balance is what makes us human and related to each other. This experience creates in us the possibility of finding love, of being a recluse, of deeper understanding, of selfishness and mistrust, of service to others or abusing others.

What does the present hold? An earth combo of happiness that shines out and a draining miasma of isolationism. Some of us have a choice in the mater, some of us do not. For every healthy waking moment in the present, there needs to be room to contemplate those who have no choice about their condition, their present. If one directs their energies to the task of fulfilling their obligation to be themselves, then the rest of the possibilities will take place. You will or will not be an artist, a friend, a provocateur, a caregiver, a victim, a tycoon, a helper, a felon, a bitter young misanthrope, a registered nurse, a lion tamer, a disgraced city councilwoman. You will or will not accept your life and responsibilities.

So here we are, equal parts sunlight and mud. A present to consider and a future to generate. As the waves of hours become days, the days months and the months our years and legacy, there is one starting point. This moment. An earth combo of the very best and the very worst of life.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Post Epic Fail: Working Your Way Back


Having an epic fail means that something, somewhere along the line went badly. Perhaps you were in the midst of a big project, about to get a promotion, about to move up in the company, welcoming a new member to the family, about to start your own business when....out of nowhere - game over.

There is 100% probability that at some point, if you live long enough, you will fail. Failure in relation to this article does not mean the end of things, but rather a season to reflect what exactly failed and what you are going to do about it.

A cog, a script, a formula, a connection, a solder joint, a missed flight, a busted valve, a turn in the market, a wreck, news from your doctor, a biopsy, serious, hushed tones around your x-ray. Nothing you would expect because it happens to other people, never you. It can't because you're too busy, you're too young, you're important, you have commitments at work, with family, you're associate of the month, manager of the year, the 'big closer' in the company, the entrepreneur with a new venture to start. There's payments to make and rent and that vacation to prepare for. Halt. Sorry about your luck. I'm so sorry. That's too bad my friend. Man, that's tough. We'll keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

When your forward progress suddenly stops, when your life is condensed down to this living moment, when you can't even comprehend what you will do next, just remember to fight. The real question you will arrive at either real quick or after you drag yourself through hell over the situation is: Do I want to live or do I want to give up and die? That is really the deciding factor. Fight with everything you have, do it it for the people you love, care about and respect. Whatever was is in the past, what and who you are now is what you have. Start working your way back.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Make a Cheap Postcard Promotion for Your Blog

Psiplex Postcard Sample

Folks who read this blog know that my goal is to stay creative in the midst of complexity. In my case, complexity means my battle with head and neck cancer and dealing positively with the chemotherapy and radiation treatments that kill the cancer cells. Part of the goal is to do something creative each time you have the energy and creative urge. This is a process that promotes healing by keeping your mind off your ills and creating something fun, useful or for a higher purpose. Well, I decided to create a 4” wide x 6” tall postcard for the Psiplex blog. While this is not a higher purpose mission, it sure was fun!

There are a lot of inexpensive ways to create your own postcard both online and with some programs on your computer you may already have. Some word processing and free graphics programs allow for the creation of a variety of flyers, posters, business cards and letterhead with built-in templates. You don't have to spend a lot, especially if you print them on your own home printer. You can google some options. Use what is comfortable for you and have fun!

I received an email this morning of a promotion that offered free postcards. All you had to do was pay the shipping. Just so you know, this is not an endorsement, just a real life series of events. It's a good offer!

The series of steps I used are documented below. Please note, if you are familiar with Adobe Illustrator ( versions 10, CS1, CS2, CS3) you will find this makes sense. This is not a strict tutorial for using AI, nor is it meant to be an endorsement, it is just what I feel comfortable using. Hey, use Photoshop, Gimp, Aviary or what ever makes you smile.

I went to the website for Club Flyers
and found that the shipping from Florida to my town ( Atlanta, GA) is $11.19. Works for me. Club Flyers has this info on the promotion:

4 x 6 Promo Special
The best way to advertise your business or event is with our premium UV Coated postcards and flyers.

Printed on 14 POINT C2S Cardstock, 4/4 (Full Color Both Sides), and UV Coated. One side has our advertisement and the other side is yours to promote your business.

1. You must pay for shipping (no shipping on your own account).

2. Production time is 10 to 14 business days. The shipping method you choose does not influence the production time.

3. You MAY NOT cancel your order once it has been placed.

For my postcard, I used Adobe Illustrator on my Mac to layout the 4” wide by 6” tall file.
The image you see above is my finished product.

STEP#1: I downloaded the template which ensures your stuff prints correctly (stays inside the safety margins for their printers) and was off to happy graphics land.

STEP #2: Once the template was on my desktop, I dragged the EPS file onto my AI icon in the dock, opening Adobe Illustrator. The EPS file has two layers which allow for laying your own artwork

STEP#3: I created my information that will go on the card (the offer is one-side only confirmed on the phone with the customer service dude.) which includes the web site, e-mail address an d my phone number. Use what is most sane for your promotion. Since I had the Psiplex logo already created in AI, I placed that in a new layer over the template layer. I then made sure to add guided along the suggested borders to ensure none of my text or logo objects would get cut off in print. Make sure your background goes to the bleed (color edge to edge) which covers the template so you don't have unexpected results. Skip this if your background is white. Check your work to make sure everything is within the safe area so it prints and doesn't get cut off.

STEP#4: Delete the template file and select everything in your artwork layer (Cmnd/Cntrl+A) and change all fonts to outlines (Cmnd/Cntrl+Shift+O). Doing this means that the text becomes shapes and not fonts. If you don't do this step, the printer who may not have the font you are using on their system will substitute your font in the print process and you will get less than stellar results. If you are using a raster program like Photoshop, no need to do this.

STEP#5: Almost done. Save the file with an .eps extension.

STEP#6: Upload your file and fill out your shipping information. As I stated earlier, you only pay shipping (mine was ground shipping from Florida to GA and was $11.19) - your milage may vary. In my case, it will take abut 10 days to receive the 500 postcards. No hurry, so that works for me. You can always get it shipped to your door faster, but you pay more.

Conclusion: From start to finish, viewing the offer to placing the order, I spent about 10 minutes. Granted, I had the logo design for the postcard already made, but it will be quick for you too. There are no time limits, just creative time to make yourself and others a useful tool for promoting your blog. I like the postcard format because it's bigger than a business card and folks are less likely to use it in the first 10 seconds of picking it up. The UV coating makes the card feel substantial and not printed on a home ink jet (nothing wrong with that).

If you need an picture step by step for this project, just use the contact page to request a PDF of the process.

I hope your postcard project turns out excellent and you were able to get some creative time in today! Share links to your masterpiece!

One Love

Saturday, May 3, 2008

You don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone

My good friend "The Mayor" (he knows everybody and is the ambassador of goodwill in my world) and I have a weekly Sunday schedule. We meet with our awesome friend Miron and typically go to a local restaurant or cafe, get a walk in and generally while away some daylight before going back home to our families. One fine Atlanta Sunday, The Mayor took me to a wonderful Ethiopian restaurant for lunch and to go over some business ideas. The restaurant was filled with the delightful aromas of spices, freshly cooked beef, lamb and the music of laughter. We enjoyed generous portions of fresh vegetables bursting with color and flavor, spicy beef and irresistible Ethiopian coffee and dessert. The meal is eaten with injera bread which is used to scoop your portions from a large round communal dish. The custom is, if you have an Ethiopian meal with someone, you are friends for life - what a cool concept. That meal The Mayor and I had that day is reminiscent of al the best things in life. You are healthy, you have your friends and family and you are enjoying your life to the fullest. Life tastes good!

After my cancer diagnosis in December, 2007, life changed so much, it was almost like it inverted. Life took on a complexity and starkness that caused almost everything to be serious, difficult, tasteless and colorless. By that I mean, the entire focus of those days was survival. Everything was pared down to the most basic of processes. My music creation stopped. My creative writing stopped. My graphic design business stopped. My income...stopped. I lost my apartment and control of day to day things. The overwhelming stressors of these situations would have plowed me under, but the fatigue and tiredness along with hard, cold reality took on a strange warped life of its own. The days were like a vortex. Every aspect of my life was enveloped in a anesthesia and medication induced sick, yellow fog that sped by me as if I was watching another person perform it. I have lost the time from mid December to March in this vortex. I just recall the oncologist visits, the hospital stays, the infusion center and so many new terms about my cancer diagnosis that it all faded into a high speed, downhill vertigo. If it wasn't for the love of family and friends, I think I would have circled the drain and been escorted off the planet. A mighty thanks to my family and friends, the skilled oncologists and doctors and the universe for seeing me to this day in May.

The ensuing chemotherapy and radiation treatments for my head and neck cancer has made the idea of eating a normal meal moot. The chemo therapy gave me a condition called "chemobrain", sometimes called "chemofog" that hoses with short term memory and cognitive abilities. Not only was I sick, I couldn't remember simple stuff like where the car is parked or what my neighbor's name is. Weird. The radiation therapy has the side effect of drying up your saliva glands and obliterating your taste buds.  Dry mouth and a feeling like strep throat that won't end is a daily crucible. Sure, there are a lot of prescriptions and tactics you can do to mitigate these effects and control nausea and fatigue, but man, what I wouldn't give to be able to taste food again. I have been informed that for every week of radiation therapy, it takes a month to recover the damage to your saliva glands, tongue and the return of your taste buds. Even then, the effects can linger for up to two years, depending on ones physiology. The trade off is, cancer is eradicated and driven from your body by the chemo and radiation. You have a chance to live again and rebuild. I can get back to creating music, graphics and that awesome Ethiopian restaurant with The Mayor and Miron.

My appreciation for all things in life right now supersedes any bitterness, hate, anger or negativity. I am simply thankful to be alive. I cannot wait to start creating new works and connect with the creative community again to add my kick and snare to the mix. It's late spring in Atlanta and I'll let the new energy and blooming madness shake loose this fugly chemofog. Gonna put some colors together and create some new logo designs, posters, business cards, flyers and web graphics. Gonna stay creative in this complexity and think about that old Joni song that says "Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you got till it's gone". Ain't that the truth.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Recent Work: Graphic Design Samples Slideshow

One of the important things you can do for yourself while trying to stay creative in the midst of complexity is keep forging ahead. Sure it feels like your feet are being sucked into the mud as you walk, but step by step, you eventually make progress. By working on your art and craft daily, you begin to build your fortitude and mind muscle. Hey, all the resistance makes you stronger! Personally, I am battling head and neck cancer which makes doing anything full time (except resting) impossible. Not to be deterred, I find that an hour or so each day focusing on being creative really gets me out of the cycle of thinking about how sick I am feeling. I also try to take time out to really appreciate and meditate on the goodness in my life including loved ones and the whole life miracle.

I wanted to post a brief slideshow of recent work. There are logo design samples, flyer and brochure samples. Mostly, I use Adobe Creative Suite for most projects with the awesome Adobe Fireworks for web graphics. Everyone has their own tools, these are the ones I am most comfortable with at this time. Also, on a daily basis, I check out some phenomenal artists on web sites like Design Float and DeviantArt which really is a great community.

It would be great to see what others are doing with their creativity! If you feel so inclined, send along links or photos of what you are up to so your work can be seen and you can get some link lovin'.

In the near future, I want to share some original electronic music and more graphic creative on Psiplex. All expression is good and helps to break the log jam of complexity introducing us up to open waters and a new sunrise.


Blog Archive