Saturday, July 15, 2017

Graduation Remarks

Newbies, Graduates, and Alumni are invited to speak at each Wednesday Lunch / Meeting at PTI (the Proton Therapy Institute). Three days ago I attended my last Lunch as a patient, so I was officially a Graduate. Here is what I said. If something doesn't make sense to you, well, the other prostate cancer patients knew exactly what I was talking about.

I’m Gordon Morgan and this is Ursula, my wife and traveling companion for four decades.
I worked in the Florida Department of Transportation for a long time, so I often think of life in transportation terms…
Not long ago, life for Ursula and me was like a fun trip rolling down a highway (think I-10 between the pines, not I-95 between the construction cranes).
Suddenly, there was a detour sign: Prostate Cancer, Exit here.
Following the exit, I saw several more signs: One was This way to radiation, it will work for a while. Another was Turn here for seeds, they’ll probably work. The biggest sign was: Straight ahead for surgery (that sign seemed to lead to a steep drop-off at the end of the road).
Finally, I spotted the path to Jacksonville and proton beam therapy. It was not heavily traveled, but it looked promising.
That path took me through a region of X-rays, MRIs, bone scans, CT-scans, and more. But finally, I got to my destination—which turned out to be... a cruise ship! The SS PTI! I had never been on a cruise ship, but I could tell what it was.
The Admirals of the Fleet (The Executive, Physics, & Medical directors) got the ship built and outfitted. Thank you, especially Dr Mendenhall.
The Captain, for me, was my doctor: he learned where I’d been and where I needed to go, and set the course for my personalized treatment. He also arranged to give me a special OAR, but I never had to help row the ship. That’s good, because the Space OAR is stored in a place that I can’t reach. On the other hand, he took away a hormone--but I’ll get it back later. Thank you, Dr Henderson.
The First Mates (my Case Managers) made sure I followed the Captain’s orders, answered all my questions, and were always available if I needed anything. Thank you, Petro and Alicia.
There were special sailors in the ship dispensary, AKA the Nurses’ Station. They took vitals, helped with procedures, and greeted me cheerfully when I arrived. Thank you, Maggie, Tia, Evelyn, and all the others.
A variety of specialized deck hands staffed the Blue Deck and the Yellow deck (I never saw the Red deck). They were friendly as well as efficient as they helped me settle into a comfy place to lie down every morning…although they only let me stay there a few minutes. And they didn’t serve drinks...but there was plenty of water. A LOT of water. Thank you, John, Jeff, Donny, Loren, Courtney, Laura, Hannah, Dominick, Michela, Tasha, Kelly, Devin, Cindie. Hope I haven’t left out too many.
The SS PTI has many kinds of accommodations for the passengers…Ursula and I were on the Third Deck in the Main part of the ship (Third & Main) quite near the heart of the ship. The smiling stewards there made sure we had everything we needed…and threw an occasional party for everyone. Thank you, Melissa & Debra.
Below deck were the unsung heroes, the physicists, mechanics, and electricians who kept the ship moving. I never saw them, but I appreciate them. There were a few issues, especially on the Yellow deck, but they always got us moving again…sooner or later.
The other passengers on the USS PTI have been amazing. We got to know each other, traded stories and tips for dealing with occasional rough seas, and we made some valuable friends. Without them, it would have been a much longer trip. Thank you to all of you.
The SS PTI encouraged us to get to know each other by providing a large and comfortable waiting room (with Gerri, and now Stacy), support group meetings, and free lunches. Our Social Director hosted meetings, introduced speakers, and answered questions. He also selected and coordinated visits to various ports of call…Italy, Mexico, several sea ports, and other tasty places. Thank you, Brad.
Ursula and I have reached the end of our voyage now. We’ll remember all of it fondly…well most of it…and we’re certainly glad that we got the chance to join so many wonderful people on the SS PTI.

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