Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fantasy Leagues

For years, Dan has put together a fantasy football league.  We are not big gamblers, so for the small cover charge of $20, we could compete for the entire season.  Dan dubbed it “Big Steaks League.”  With the winnings, a big steak dinner is about all you could get.
But this was a way for us to connect with some people that we didn’t see regularly over the fall, touching base, if only for online football smack talk.  And fantasy football had the added benefit of making watching the Browns a bit easier, because while they have consistently struggled on the field (sigh…), I might have a fantasy player on the opposing team.  The matrix of my hopes has become more convoluted and complicated, as you might imagine.

Over the past two nightmarish years, (both for the Browns and for us Ramers) we have continued to watch Cleveland on the gridiron.  However, I have been hopelessly derelict in maintaining my fantasy team.  This was evident on bye weeks, when half my active roster was not even scheduled to play.  I know, annoying.   I am that one in the league, which is the height of rudeness according to fantasy etiquette.  Thank God I am married to the commissioner, although even he is losing patience with me.
It is hard.  We have been pretty busy with cancer, treatments, surgeries and recoveries.  At one point, Dan asked me if I could step away from cancer, from medicine, to let it go and relax.   He has been helping me, to varying degrees of success.

For example, the spring that we wound down with chemo, he put in a garden for me.  I have long loved working the soil, and enjoyed the planning, the planting, the patience, and the hope that goes with gardening. He made a gift of this, to help guide us back to our former life.  Unfortunately, the entire summer was spent finishing chemo, and then day trips for countless follow up appointments at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.  We also took a hospital vacation to New York and Boston, visiting doctors and geneticists: medical tourism at its finest.  You can easily understand the failure of that garden.
I signed up for fantasy last fall, knowing that it would be an important sign to Dan, of us getting back on track.  I failed to adjust my roster.  I am not even sure that I ever logged in.  I had wounds to watch, doctors to organize, and research to prod along.  I wasn’t able to focus on much beyond these occupations, and struggled to follow the Browns, (which is not really saying much, because most people struggle in following them.) 

Seasons change.  Cleveland teams lose.  Surgeries are scheduled.  Cancer is gratefully averted. 
Dan put in another garden this summer, one that we were seldom home to tend, but our 85 pound “puppy” was most helpful with.  It was an epic failure. 

So, in good faith, I tried fantasy again this fall.   I have been distracted, recovering from surgery and getting things pulled together on the home front.  The Browns, in week TWO, trade Trent Richardson, who was heralded as our best player.  Clevelanders despair, and begin to burn all manner of things brown and orange.  Sigh…

The other difficulty in my ability to focus on the Big Steaks League is that I am pretty active in another fantasy.   This is the ‘Big Stakes League.’  Many of the cities are the same, but the teams are a bit different.  Minnesota doesn’t field the Vikings; I get news from the Mayo Clinic.  Los Angeles is the City of Hope.  New York's powerhouse is Sloan Kettering.  Say ‘Boston,’ and I think of Dana Farber, not Tom Brady.  The Tennessee franchise at St. Jude has great promise . It is always worth seeing what Houston is putting out there, because MD Anderson is among the super bowl institutions on my news feed.  I have rather a lot of them, and am encouraged by the developments in their programs.
I have scouts from across the LFS world letting me know who is developing interesting theories, and promoting their exciting ideas.  They will helpfully share what star players they have come across in their oncology travels.  Surgeons, oncologists, geneticists, studies, clinical trials, holistic medicine, all shared with the hope of helping one another with the myriad of needs that always seem to present.   I happen to know of a pretty terrific ‘offensive coordinator’ headed to Arizona.  Cleveland, by the way, has lots of promise in this league.

But the downside of all of this information is the reality that my new LFS friends, these oncological scouts, they are in this same conundrum.  There are fears, concerns, disappointments and a beautiful fighting spirit.  There is love.  I witness much struggle, which even digitally, is hard.

These struggles become my struggles.  And it all serves to remind me that while the Ramers are blessed in this moment, there are no guarantees.  I would very much love to be on the other side of scans, which are on 10/14, for the reassurance they offer me for a time. 

We have the wonderful distraction of ‘birthday season’ right now.  Three of our children have birthdays within 6 weeks of one another.  And I am certainly celebrating this.  I am working hard on not allowing scanxiety and fear to creep in, and taint the gift we have in our medical quiet.

So, on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns played the Minnesota Vikings, and won.  They had a rough 3rd quarter, but had some really promising plays with a 3rd string quarterback.  You never can tell.  It is only week four.  Perhaps I should try to check my roster. 

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