Athletes at Higher Risk for Addiction?

I had no idea and it was never even on my radar to think it.

Athletes potentially have a higher risk towards substance misuse and addiction than the average high school student.


He’s a BEAST!

was the exclamation of two football coaches as they watched my son leap over the hurdles for his first time ever. With no previous training in hurdles, he filled an empty slot at a meet and he powered over them like a bull with the agility of a gazelle.  He was recruited for the football team on the spot.

That’s my boy!

Caleb was an athlete who excelled, earning him status from awards won at the state level, in recognition being a co-captain on both wrestling and football teams, and with purpose leading as an example of determination with a never-give-up attitude, for his teammates. Sports was his identity. It was his true joy.  I am comforted in knowing that he experienced the highs of accomplishment and pleasure in his experience as an athlete; literally, they were the best years of his short life.

Little did I know, shortly thereafter, he began experimenting with marijuana during this time of his life.  With accomplishments come expectations and pressure to perform and work to surpass your own records. Beating your body into submission brings pain; no pain, no gain, as they say.  I am fairly confident that he occasionally used weed to reduce anxiety and ease the pain of sore muscles.

This is where it all began.

Fast forward two more years………..An injury, was re-injured, and then re-injured again; smashed and rammed on the footfall field and stretched and torqued on the wrestling mat; surgery became inevitable. Surgery provided opiates to manage the pain. While I cannot say that this opiate use was the cause of his downward spiral into addiction, it certainly exacerbated the course in more than just the obvious way.  More than self medicating for physical pain, my son was self medicating for emotional pain.  It is my firm belief, that the injury and surgery that prevented him from finishing his senior year of wrestling season, plummeted him into depression.  You see, when an accomplished athlete suddenly cannot engage with his sport anymore, his identity and purpose is suddenly stripped away. This secondary pain became primary to the path of substance misuse for Caleb.  

My athlete was certainly one of those at higher risk for addiction.

But, no one would know this looking on from the outside; the facade of bravado that dominates the athletic realm, masked the inner pain he endured. Coupled with a genetic predisposition, it was a perfect set-up to propel him toward substance abuse.

Addiction became a BEAST bigger than he could have thought possible; It overpowered him like a bull and stole up on him like a gazelle.


…there could be only one winner as they battled to the death…

What could have altered this course for my son?

That is the proverbial cry of this grieving parent, and every parent, who has lost a child to substance use disorder.

Thoughts anyone?








Cancer is a BEAST


Maybe you knew this, maybe you didn’t.  I never heard of such a thing…until I had colon cancer.

Dark BLUE is the color that represents Colon seems each cancer owns a color.  I never knew.  It’s sad really.

My father said, his science teacher, from the 1950’s, told his class that everyone will eventually die of some kind of cancer if something else does not get you first. Pretty astute comment from that era.  Sadly, it seems he was right.

My Grandmother had colon cancer and breast cancer, and died.  My Aunt has breast cancer and has been battling it throughout her body for more than a decade.  Several of  my friends have, or have had, cancer.  And everyone I talk to knows someone close to them who has been touched by cancer in some way or another.  Sadder than sad.

Cancer is a BEAST.

I  know, firsthand, the beasty-ness of it.  IF I could give an image to the beasty-ness, I’d liken cancer to the dragon in Tolkien’s, Lord of the Ring’s, Smaug.  He is overwhelmingly huge, he is a dangerous fire-breather, claimed a mountain to be his own, and he scares the bejeebers out of everyone who treads nearby.  Yes.  Cancer is like that.

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It is overwhelmingly huge, dangerous, claims territory, and scares the bejeebers out of the one who is diagnosed with it.  SADLY, with all caps, I know this.

BUT, there is good news x 3.

Good news #1 =  Early detection of cancer means good chance of recovery!  Do not dismiss any odd lumps, bumps, or fluctuations in your body….feelings, tiredness, or  in the case of colon cancer, bowel movements; pay attention to symptoms!   Do not dismiss routine scans or screens meant for early detection.  Believe me, any test or procedure is nothing compared to the BEAST!  Sadly, early detection was not afforded me.

Good news #2 = There are excellent doctors and nurses and care systems and treatments that can prolong your life by eradicating the rogue cells and the tumor.  I am a colon cancer survivor (survivor’s own the color purple) and I have nothing but great things to say for the care I received locally and in Boston.

Good news #3 = In the case that something is found and you find yourself battling the BEAST, know that you have access to someone bigger than the BEAST.   Someone who can sustain you, carry you, and do miracles. Just three letters names Him: GOD.

In October of 2011 I began writing my memoir for my family, to remember me and my battle by — in April 2012, my story was accepted by my publisher and it was released just six months from the time I typed my first word in the manuscript;  I call it a God-thing.  He gave me the story and I mean to share it.

Towdah: A Cancer Survivor’s Song of Hope

I invite you to read my story and pass it along.  I invite you to encourage others to not procrastinate in getting their baseline colonoscopy.  I invite you to share this post for the purpose of enlightening others about Colon Cancer Awareness month.