Friday, April 23, 2010

There's this guy, see...

Look, I'm just gonna lay it out there: I usually hate people, especially people I don't know, with the white-hot fire of...of...something that's pretty hot. But I need to tell you a story of a guy whose real name I don't even know, and whom I wouldn't be able to pick out of a lineup.

He's a fellow poker blogger, and the only name by which I know him is lightning38, or lightning36, or somewhere around there. The only things I know about him are these: He's polite, he's articulate, he likes my blog and Josie's, and he's got a son who's been diagnosed with cancer.

He's travelled from wherever it is he and his family live their lives to the Mayo Clinic, in Minnesota, so that his son can get the best treatment that modern medicine can provide. Of course it comes at great cost, and I'm not talking monetary. His life is on hold, his son is likely exhausted from being poked and prodded, and over everything is a paralyzing, consuming fear of the future, and what it portends.

Because lightning36, being a poker player, knows all about odds. And he knows, like we all know, that even though your pocket aces are a 93-6 favorite over A2, there will come a time when those odds just won't hold up, and you'll end up sending all your chips across the table.

And even should things go the way they're currently talking about, and the play stays with the odds, there's a hard road ahead of them, with all the stuff that cancer brings to a family: treatment that is almost as bad as the illness, a constant vigil over a recurrence of the cancer, and a fundamental shift in the way time is measured. Instead of the mile markers of life being events, like graduation, marriage, children, and the like, life will now be measured in terms of five-year survival rate, ten-year survival rate, etc. Cancer is the gift that keeps on kneecapping you.

Despite the enormity of what he and his family is up against, he's writing about it over at his blog, Lightning Strikes. To me that is a stunning act of bravery, of faith in the face of everything, and of an optimism about the future that brings a lump in my throat, despite me not even knowing this guy's name.

You should go to his site and read all about it. And for the love of God, put him and his family in your thoughts. If ever there was a guy who deserved some good karma, it's him.

Whatever his name is.


  1. Gary, I am sincerely touched.

    A lot of it is a matter of perspective. I have been pretty lucky to have led a good life and have had many good things happen to me. Even with this, is looks like I have skated while some families deal with things 100 times worse.

    Writing about the cancer situation served a few puposes. It let me have a release for all these things that have built up inside while having to deal with the practical aspects of getting my son immediate help. It also was a request for prayers and help for me and my family to get us through this. We are doing okay.

    There are so many quality people among the poker bloggers. All that good karma helps to keep you going. And believe me -- after seeing what some people and some families are dealing with, we got off very easy. There is never a guarantee about the future, but we are pretty hopeful.

    Thanks for your kind comments, but I have only been doing what any father would do in this situation. You just do what you have to do.

    Good luck with your hockey team. It would be pretty fantabulous if Boston and Chicago played for the Cup.

  2. Yeah, that Gary ain't so bad. You too Lightning (i just changed the word Lightbulb to gift to you).

  3. @Lightning, it's my pleasure. But actually this was just a ruse to get you to tell me your name. Since I've failed I'm just gonna ask: What's your name? And yes, it would be great if the B's played for the Cup against anybody!

    @Josie, it's very likely that "That Gary, he ain't so bad" is the nicest thing you've ever said to or about me.

    @Cricket, great photo - who was the brilliant photographic genius that took it?

    @Coop, thanks. It strikes me that I don't know your name either...

  4. This is lightning's wife. While he's been posting to blogs, I've been posting to facebook. It's been a good way to keep close friends and unknown ones up to date without a million phone calls.

    John is a great husband and father. He has been a great source of support to our son through all this (although it may be debatable how helpful his questionably funny humor really is!)

    We really appreciate all the prayers and good thoughts coming from family and friends around the country. Your post was a day brightener.

  5. Mrs. Lightning, it's my pleasure. Nothing but good thoughts from here to there.

  6. Mrs. Light,

    My thoughts are with you too. I have a son and you're living my worst fears, although it sounds things will work out.

    Wishing you and yours all the best.

  7. Mrs Light I have kids too. My thoughts are with you all.