Peace, Love, Music…and Prostate Cancer
My college girlfriend and I were married on July 7, 1969, in a small backyard ceremony in a rural Pennsylvania town. She was 23 and I was 20, and we were as naïve as our ages might imply. One of her brothers gave us an exciting wedding gift: two tickets to the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, an Aquarian Exposition in White Lake, NY. We had no idea what we were getting into.
We enjoyed and survived one of the defining moments of our generation. My memories of the event are all good. Highlights include incredible performances by Santana, Janis Joplin, and Sly and the Family Stone; people sharing food and beverages; the overall feeling of well-being in a crowd of 250,000. Our biggest health challenge was when my wife, Abby, forgot to take her birth control pill on the morning of the second day and dutifully walked back to our camp to take it.
How times have changed
Although our marriage broke up in 1975, Abby and I remain friends. We each married again, we each raised three children, and we each had good careers in nursing and education, respectively. It was a long time before either one of us faced a significant health challenge.
Flash forward to the summer of 2019. My wife, Melinda, and I have been married for 38 years. We have three adult sons, three grandchildren and we’re both retired. She’s 63, I’m 70, and in a couple of weeks, it will be the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. The old music is still the foundation of our around-the-house and road trip listening, and to celebrate we’re going to attend a Pops-by-the-Sea concert in Avila Beach, CA, where the San Luis Obispo Symphony will play Woodstock music. It’s not Janis and Jimi, but it will do.
Balancing life with health challenges
And, of course, a big change over fifty years has been the increase of health challenges. While Melinda has been mostly spared, I’ve had my share, the most recent being my 2017 prostate cancer diagnosis and subsequent decision to have a radical laparoscopic prostatectomy. But while our bodies show signs of aging, fortunately, our minds, and our commitment to good health through proper diet and exercise are in good shape.
I’ve been backpacking for a long time, but not since months before my surgery in April 2018. Melinda has never backpacked, but we’re going to the Eastern Sierra for two nights in early September, hiking in six miles, camping at 11100’, day hiking at close to 12000.’ Who would have thought we’d start backpacking together at this stage of life?
The lessons from Woodstock
We have a trip planned to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in November, and to Paris and Barcelona next May. It’s our goal to always have the next adventure on the books, but to be present for all the good experiences available to us day-by-day. While I’d rather not have had prostate cancer, in some ways, it’s made us appreciate our lives even more. We are blessed in more ways than we can count.
If there was a universal spirit present at Woodstock, it was that anything is possible, that it’s impossible to dream too big, that love is the force that drives all goodness. That spirit felt good then, and, fifty fast years later, it still feels good today.
Have you taken the Prostate Cancer Recurrence Quiz yet?