The on-going, first-hand tale of a journey through medical oncology... and what happens after.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


So, today I went out for what will likely be my last bicycle ride for several months. There was a modest wind, but the sun was out intermittently and it wasn't wet or too cold. I was joined by a friend that I have been wanting to ride with for about a year, and that was in itself a satisfying reason to get into the saddle.

We did not go especially far, and I thought that the route that I chose was a good mix of rolling hills and flat sections. It ended up being about 25 miles, and I enjoyed the exercise and the company. My familiarity with the route was helpful, but one event really shocked me. We rode up a short steep hill, with a sharp right turn at the top, and just as we were starting down the other side, a large Rottweiler charged out of a driveway on our right straight toward me.

It happened so fast all I could do was yell, and then it literally plowed headfirst into my right calf. It was barking loudly, but hit me with its head and then fell over onto its back, stunned. Somehow, the only thing that I experienced was a slight wobble and my chain popped off the front crank. As I had started downhill already, I coasted until the next little rise slowed me to a stop - far beyond the apparent interest of the dog. I put the chain back on, and we continued on our way.

My friend saw all of this from slightly behind, and could not believe that nothing else happened to me or the bike. I too wonder how many amazingly lucky details aligned so that I was not hurt in any way, nor was my bike damaged. If the dog had chosen to attack my friend instead of me, it might very well have ended very differently (she is smaller than me, and was not going very fast since she was behind and had not started down the hill yet). If the dog's mouth had been open, I might have suffered all kinds of bloody damage - with untold ramifications for our family trip to Orlando and for chemotherapy. And if the dog's big head had hit ANY OTHER PART OF MY BIKE, I would certainly have fallen and...

So what... Well, I am thinking that this event is analogous to some lousy cancer events over the past several years. First, there was a colonoscopy that discovered a tumor (which was a much bigger deal in the end than we thought). Then there was a colon cancer study that I qualified for, which required more thorough treatments and more frequent follow-up but connected me with great doctors and caregivers in Salem and Portland. And now an elevated CEA level that allowed us to detect liver tumors long before they made their sorry presence known via symptoms. First the diagnosis of cancer andnow its metastasis are like a crazy dog charging at my body - but with fortuitous outcomes.

Rottweilers have gotten a bit of a bad rap in the US from the media and in movies. From Wikipedia - "While still used in herding, Rottweilers are now also used in search and rescue, as guide dogs for the blind, as guard or police dogs, and in other roles. The Rottweiler is good-natured, placid in basic disposition, very devoted, obedient, biddable and eager to work. Their appearance is natural and rustic, their behaviour self-assured, steady and fearless. It has an inherent desire to protect home and family, and is an intelligent dog of extreme hardness and adaptability with a strong willingness to work, making them especially suited as a companion, guardian and general all-purpose dog." The one I encountered today was doing its best, in the way it understood. I do not blame the dog (though I would like to have a short chat with its owner).

That said, I feel like I am blessed with a team of Rottweilers.


Anonymous said...

In that case remember that a dog is a mans best friend.

Anonymous said...

I KNEW there was a message that Rottie was sending - and a very strong reason behind targeting you rather than me-a much slower and easier target! Thank the universe for those Rottweilers...and people like you who read the signs. Super fun riding with you, Ed!