Absence makes the heart grow fonder–we hope.

Not one for lengthy explanations, I find that this explanation concerning why it’s been two weeks or more since my last blog entry will in fact be lengthy, but I’ll start the long version with the short version.

 

Ten days ago, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

 

At this point, I’m told my condition is treatable. I’ll know more about that treatment regimen on Wednesday this week after a visit with a radiology oncologist.

 

It is a terrible cliché, but such important information has a way of focusing one’s mind. For the past ten days, while my emotions ran the roller coaster from anger to self-pity to depression to hope to positive thinking to rejecting the news to accepting the news to, to, to, my mind began to create what I call importance departments, where I began to separate what is important and should take up space in there and what is less important to get less space and what should be removed completely for lack of importance. Here’s what I came up with as it relates to wine.

 

The least important thing is to argue a wine point just to prove a point. While I’ve always railed against the massive egos that infiltrate wine conversations, I must admit that the fact that I engage in conversations at all proves evidence of a strong enough ego on my part as well. But here’s the interesting thing about my latest condition: prostate cancer is related to testosterone levels.

 

In two weeks, I will be given a shot to turn off my brain’s ability to produce testosterone. I’ve been imagining that after the shot I’ll become a conciliatory individual with big tits!

 

Seriously, if conciliation or better yet, avoidance becomes the norm for me in the future, I am certain it will be good for my blood pressure to avoid or laugh at the often low-level discussion that ego-based arguments create. In the future, I will not argue with anyone about wine. I will allow everyone to hold whatever opinion he or she has, I will make a stab at telling what I think I know, and then I will gracefully remove myself from the fallout.

 

As to the role wine and food will play in my future, I issue a great big Hmmmmmm.

 

Here’s what I was told to do about my diet: eat omega 3 foods like fish and oils; eat cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, etc.); in other words, pile on the anti-oxidants. It’s that free radical stuff we’ve read about for decades now.

 

This news pisses me off because the above describes what has been much of my diet for years—with the exception that I likely eat too much animal fat for my own good, and I have remedied that situation. Notwithstanding my relatively healthy diet, cancer cells managed to grow inside this otherwise healthy body. Genetics strikes.

 

Wine is allowed in my diet, but not in the volume that I have been used to: I must limit myself to ten or so ounces each day, certainly no more than twelve ounces. In fact, I’ve been limiting myself for about six weeks, when this process began and when I already assumed what the diagnosis was going to be (I knew the genetics issue). The limiting has made me lose six pounds—one pound per week!

 

When you receive information about your mortality, you have only two choices: heed or ignore. The former hands you a promise while the latter hands you almost devastating certainty. But neither choice hands you your life back, not as you’ve known it before. On the day that you are faced with your mortality, you learn (or should learn) to ease off, to find the moments that matter, to let go, and, most of all, to embrace—life.

 

You also learn who your loved ones really are, and that has been a lesson more overwhelming to my emotions than anything I’ve felt in the past ten days. Real friends have poured love my way; the others, well, I now know who they are, but that’s okay. It is not important. The importance is holding close to the ones that matter, and that most potently includes family.

 

It’s also important to hold close to the things that matter. Wine and food will always matter to me.

 

Of course, the cost of what we call in this country a health care insurance system but what seems to me to be a near criminal enterprise may demand that I cut my wine budget considerably. The irony of the situation will be that I’ll probably be forced to consume all those “Vinted by” and “Cellared by” wines that are made somewhere and labeled somewhere else and that I have railed against for years. If only I were the type to ask for free wine to review on a regular basis–hey, any producers reading, I’ll accept them now with joy…

 

When the news of prostate cancer came, I had a conversation with my wife of course, and also with a brother-in-law who is a writer. Each encouraged me to start and maintain a blog to track my journey; it’s not an unusual thing; people do it every day; the wine industry has been graced with the cancer journey blog of an East Coast importer for a couple of years now. But that sort of thing is too self-indulgent for me.

 

Still, as a writer, I cannot resist and so I am keeping a personal account of my journey. That’s because we writers believe that our every thought can in some way be transposed into an article or book for pay, as if what we have to say has value. What was that I said about self-indulgence?

 

My promise to the handful of readers of this blog is that I will try to come up with ideas to make blog entries about wine and/or food. But I’m unsure how well I can keep that promise and at what consistency level. It would help if a few readers were willing to think of subjects they’d like to know my take on and let me know what they are.  

 

For now, it is lunchtime here. I have an omega 3 sandwich waiting for me…

 

Copyright Thomas Pellechia

December 2010. All rights reserved.

 

Lifting a blog entry without the author’s permission (and without recompense) is a copyright infringement–period.

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