For those of you who do not know what the Greasy Pole Shuffle is, allow me to explain. During the St. Peter’s Fiesta at the end of June, a race of seine boats row half a mile out and half a mile back on Pavilion Beach. The first crew to hit the beach wins. Sounds simple right? For those of you who have rowed before, it is not simple at all. It is the most gruesome and painful sport I have ever been a part of, which also may be why it is the most triumphant.
During the race, you and your crew are rowing so intensely that (if you are working hard enough) you no longer hear the people on the beach nor the people on the boats that are basically right next to you. The only thing you hear are your nine brothers or sisters growling and the coxswain directing every stroke that you take. The most important parts of the race, in my opinion, are the start, the turn around the flag, and the greasy pole shuffle.
Allow me to explain this shuffle. After you turn the flag and are on the way back to the beach, you begin to come back down to Earth and hear the fans cheering you on. You see the leisure boats around the race path. And you hear your coxswain preparing you for the greasy pole shuffle. Once the seine boat reaches that pole, your crew focuses on nothing but lining up that stroke with the oar and making sure your stroke matches the teammate in front of you. It is the final lap. It is the most painful part of the race. Time to hit that beach first, relentlessly.
Why am I mentioning this within The Mindful Sight? Because I have begun the Greasy Pole Shuffle. I have three rounds of chemotherapy left. But I am also going through the most painful part of this battle. I feel as if I am averaging one Emergency Room visit per month. Not only does lightheadedness, nausea, and inability to sleep hit me, but now I am experiencing physical pain in my abdomen due to an absurd amount of medications and stress that is overflowing onto my seine boat.
I have the choice of stopping this treatment because of all this pain. After all, I am the captain of my own ship. My doctors have given me the option to stop, but they are comfortable with the continuance of these last three rounds. By now, I hope you know me well enough to guess which choice I am taking.
I refuse to slow down right as I have reached this greasy pole shuffle. I refuse to have my crew (Leah, family, friends) lose our lead at the greasy pole by allowing this unpredicted loss of hair, the stomach pains that have ruined both myself and my fiancée’s sleep, and the overflow this stress/anxiety that is causing my current physical pain. Please learn from this suffering that I am experiencing. Do not stop rowing on the final stretch. People will remember your commitment forever.