Feeling the Plenitude

Howdy Team!  As of yesterday my tumor marker was just under 50 (49.8 to be precise) which means it’s still continuing to pace well and we may just be a few weeks away from the range where MSK will green light the RPLND surgery.  My football self can feel some downhill momentum as we cross this 50 yard line. I recall a few long drives when we started on our 2 yard line and by the time we crossed the 50 yard line it felt like nothing was going to stop that train.

I also got an MRI scan on my brain last Monday and there was no cancer up there! This is very good news. Because the chemo doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier it sometimes happens in a case like mine that during treatment brain metastes can develop that were too small to see on the pre-treatment MRI. We would have had to drop everything and radiate the tumors which would have sucked.

Yesterday I had an ultrasound on ground zero (left testicle) and they saw the same thing they did in August: a burnt out tumor. This is also a good thing.  Unfortunately the tech barely appreciated my attempt at levity when he dimmed the lights for the scan and I asked, “Mood lighting?”

So a lot of great news to celebrate!  A bit of not-so-great news is that my doc definitely wants to remove the offending left nutsicle. They’ll do it at the same time as the RPLND which is nice and efficient.

It’s a heavy thing to have part of your sexual apparatus removed. Or any part of you.  But especially one that is so defining of and elemental to being a man (at least half a man).  However, I have checked with KR and she assures me my manhood lies in my self, my soul and my pecs. And thanks be to god that he/she designed the redundant testicular system to be fault tolerant!  The procedure is actually called an orchiectomy (from the Greek “orkhis” or testicle).

I did take a pause when thinking about disseminating this info and it’s private nature but it does seem germane to any adventure in testicular cancer. Plus it opens up a treasure chest of jokes, puns, and innuendo (see prior sentence). For instance, I will be able to say, “I would give my left nut for _______” and be, for the first time, able to back it up. To wit:

“I would give my left nut for some Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk.”

“I would give my left nut to live another 40 years.”

“I would give my left nut to see our children running through the field on a summer day.”

…so I have that going for me.

But seriously folks, I find myself in this season of giving thanks so very full of gratitude. For the very breath of my body, for the abundance of love in my life, for the transformative power of the experience of disease, for all the dudes who are rocking Movember for testicular cancer (including my doc), for the mystery woven into the paths of our lives, for the healers who are bringing me back to health and for this day.

I want to share with you with some wisdom ginned up by three writers for whom I am also deeply grateful.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone – hope you have a ball!

Mark Nepo, from The Book of Awakening 

Sometimes just giving thanks for the mystery of it all brings everything and everyone closer, the way suction pulls streams of water together. So take a chance and openly give thanks, even if you’re not sure what for, and feel the plenitude of all that is living brush up against your heart.

Wendell Berry, The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. 

Rumi, The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.


  1. Thank you for sharing so eloquently Jay. I thought about blogging my own experience many times and just never did. It is a bittersweet experience to read yours. Thank you.

  2. Larry Hayes says:


    Just found your blog today and am delighted to see you in fine form under fire. Also happy to see we share an enthusiasm for Wendell Berry, one of my favorite poets–Vicki and I even included some of his words in our wedding ceremony a gazillion years ago.

    Here’s another favorite from a hero of mine, that Jewish sage from Montreal, Leonard Cohen, that you may or may not have heard. It’s lovely beyond words, and a real salve to the soul.

    Be well my friend.

  3. I had an awesome stress-relieving laugh from this blog. Thanks and continue with the good spirits!

  4. beautiful, jay. thanks for sharing your everything with vulnerability, heart and humor. that rumi poem is one of my all-time faves. sending love and healing light your way.

  5. Jay, you are such an amazing soul! Grateful for all this good news and inspired by how you’re handling the not-so-good news. Sending you love. xx

  6. Tisha Howe says:

    There is much to be Thankful for today. We send our love.

  7. Claudia Jessup says:

    You are an inspiration, Jay. Truly enlightened, and with a great sense of humor & perspective. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with KR & all the family & friends. much love, Claudia & Jon

  8. Just make sure they remove the right one. By which I mean the left. With you bro.

  9. You pack more ‘manliness’ in one finger than some guys fit in a whole body, Jay.
    Love and thanks.

  10. Cheers, Jay & KR. Happy Thanksgiving from me and Liz.

  11. Loving the puns… disseminating! private! germane!


  12. Theresa Ryan says:

    As always, thanks for sharing with the ones who care about you. God speed and Happy Thanksgiving. xot

  13. From me and my London family Happy Thanksgiving this years with its special meaning. XXX NBH

  14. So grateful for you, your words, your music, your light.
    Privileged to know you, inspired by your joyful spirit and
    your generosity in sharing this journey…
    Sending love to wrap around you and your loved ones

  15. I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains. Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself with and without you and be happy. ANNE FRANK

    Wishing you a KR a wonderful thanksgiving .
    much love,

  16. Happy thanksgiving Jay and KR!

  17. kimball Knutson says:

    Jay -I am so appreciative of your beautiful and humorous words of which I have read every one.
    Your attitude inspires. I hope you and all the Ringer/ Hillegass clan have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
    And , that someday, not too far away, to see you and KR and your new Pauling piece of heaven.
    Blessings and love, Kimmy

  18. Good news buddy! Stay strong! I’ll be home in 2.5 weeks, and we are going to ravage some Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk! Love ya bro.

  19. You are a blessing. Thank you for your raw open self. Brave, courageous, I love each detail. How thankful I am to know you and hear your journey in these unknown moments. Raining perspective on petty busy things and my own growing fears and questions. Love and music to you and KR this Thanksgiving. ps. we have about 12 – 20 turkeys passing by our hood these days… if you have any neighbors that are not vegan and looking for organic goods….send them our way…pps. I so agree with my sis..that I love so much how you are not afraid to show us the real..

  20. Dr. Robin Lester says:

    After we saw you this afternoon burning off that old pile of stumps that had bugged you for months every time you drove by–the same Neighbor Jay in worn jeans, woolen shirt, and watch cap we have come to know and love, we both had the same thought: “He’s a lumberjack and he’s OK. . . .”

  21. Nicky & Rich says:

    We are thankful for you and Katie Rose, and that you have Katie Rose, and that she has you — and that you’re both so awesome. And Hamish is thankful for the coolest, strongest, most badass, most wonderful dogparents ever. We love you!

  22. Jesse Randol says:

    You guys rule!
    Happy thanksgiving indeed.
    Love you both.

  23. patty giesecke says:

    lovely…..all the way around. This holiday will witness my profound gratitude, for all there is…and is to be.
    Sending love from the Giesecke’s

  24. Kirstie (Kirt) Benedict says:

    I loved the pause and thinking about the sharing of such personal information and continuing to do so anyway. It is truly courageous (and hilarious). I just share too much period…queen of tmi…i don’t like when people say that…and i do so never on a proper forum…is there ever one? I think ANY sharing is wonderful! ‘Tis the season! Thanks Jay…even though i subscribe to this and have TOLD MY MOTHER as she still forwards to me…multitasking once again without thinking. 😜

    I hope when you think of your ‘football self’ you are thinking of Penn State Football! Not the Sandusky stuff but the adversity the team has been through and the challenges they overcame and still are working to overcome. Maybe you don’t even like football. I dont. (Shhh…don’t tell anyone). It was only a few years back that I learned your parents went to Penn State! Not sure if they bleed blue and white like i do.

    You are in my thoughts and prayers and hope you too can find some peace and share many more jokes during the holiday season. Why does that sound so corny? Because it is what most people say? Maybe. But i honestly find myself daydreaming throughout the day (I’m unemployed at the moment so i have a lot of time on my hands) and you often come to mind. I hope that makes you feel better. It always did for me…

  25. Thank you for you Jay

  26. Jay, your spirit, humor and courage are a balm to all. I’m blessed to know you. Love to you and KR. nadiya~

  27. Sharon Friedman says:

    I thank you so much for all you are and the light every message brings.sharon friedman Sent from my iPhone


  28. I am thankful to know you and it a privilege and honor to read your words about your journey…with love always.

  29. Love you man.

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