Living With the “New Normal” Craig Corbett in the backyard of Fremont house, Santa Cruz house, and Santa Cruz beach.
The day I was supposed to meet Craig Corbett for the first time, I did not know what to expect; for all I knew he could’ve been a psychopath. Here’s the first story he told us:
“The police were chasing my friend and I. Well we were coming home from school and we accidentally made an illegal u-turn and a motorcycle cop saw us. We saw him turning around to go chase us and we thought, well we will probably go get a ticket. And I said nope, we are gunna give him a run for his money. So we floored it while we saw him making a u-turn and we got away! We pulled into one of our friends driveways. But the cop saw us and pulled up next to us and gave me a ticket.”
The way he was able to present himself in a friendly and joking manner in front of someone he just met shows how he is not afraid to be himself. Continuously all jokes and smiles, he told Paige and me stories of his adventures with friends and family during his teens. However, Craig has another side to him. Being valedictorian of his high school, the quarterback of his high school football team, Homecoming King, and going to college at San Jose State University demonstrates a mature and responsible side of Craig. Curious about whether or not he was joking, I asked him if he partied a lot while attending college. He stated simply that he did not. On the contrary, he never lost his sense of adventure. He got his pilot’s license by his six month of starting college.
Not only is Craig adventurous and mature, he also has a loving and caring side to him. For instance, in high school he met his future wife Nancy. With a smile from ear to ear, Craig reminisces on their relationship. He recalled, “We met when she was 14 and I was 16 and it was love ever after. We have just been My reaction to how Craig told the two little peas in a pod ever since and truth, and was not ashamed, shocked me. if she tells you anything different she is lying.” I couldn’t help but smile at this.
How Craig acted around Nancy, his wife, was very unique. He always made small jokes and bickering with Nancy in a fun way, like giving her cute nicknames and playing around with small tasks she gives him. During an interview of both Craig and Nancy, Nancy would be telling a story and Craig would butt in every few minutes to say his person opinion. Seeing that the bickering sometimes annoys Nancy, I noticed Craig makes sure to also show signs of affection. Reaching over to hold Nancy’s hand or rubbing her shoulder are just a few. Just by the way Craig looked and interacted with Nancy, I could tell he cares deeply for her. As adventurous and independent as Craig was when he was young, he made sure to continue to stay outgoing. For instance, once him and Nancy were married, they took a four month trip to Mexico. Throughout most of the trip they stayed with fishermen on sailboats in the Gulf of Mexico, sleep on the beach, and caught their own food. Traveling is a big part of Craig’s life, however, he cannot travel all the time. That is why when he is at his home in California, Craig tries to be active. Going out for bike rides, taking frequent trips to Lake Tahoe to ski, and going to the gym often shows how Craig likes to keep his body moving and in shape. When he was diagnosed with Melanoma skin cancer his life changed dramatically, he had to read-
just to a new lifestyle commonly called “new normal”. During his radiation treat ments, Craig realized the importance of a strong support group made of close friends and family to help him through this challenging part of his life. Melanoma is a skin cancer that is caused by UV rays from the sun and tanning beds. According to the Skin Cancer’s Foundation website, one is diagnosed with a specific stage of melanoma by the thickness, the depth of penetration, and the degree to how much the melanoma has spread. Unfortunately for Craig, they diagnosed him when a tumor was already formed and affecting his lymph nodes. Having the tumor removed and treated with extensive radiation, Craig has been able to survive. While radiation helps kill cancer cells, there is a chance that the high energy beams can damage healthy cells. Craig is now confronted with his “new normal” life, every day he experiences pain caused by the radiation treatment in his left arm, where the tumor was removed. According to Craig’s sister Cynthia once he was diagnosed with cancer Craig did not act like himself for as long as six months. However, once Craig started taking daily medication for his arm, the pain dulled and Craig started to act like himself again. Craig is now able to cope with cancer better as a result of his medication and his support group motivating him to live day by day and look at the brightside of life.
“I look at myself and I think I am the luckiest guy in the world” ~ Craig
L: Cynthia Topale, M: Craig Corbett, R:Nancy Colbert
“I’ve been doing stuff even though my arm isn’t doing too well” Craig states in a positive tone. During one of our interviews he asked me if I think he looks all screwed up, I responded “No, especially your attitude.” Craig answers, “Well you know there is a balance there. If you got to the point where you were depresses you could go down hill. If you lose that optimism then you could go anywhere... I look at myself and I think I am the luckiest guy in the world. There are tons of people that have it worse. I look at my arm and think if it was my leg and I needed crutches then I would be in deep shit.” Interested in whether positive thinking is proven to help people with illnesses, I looked it up on Google and found contradicting results. One website contained an article called The Power of Positive Thinking by Rachel Charles. This article tells the story of how Charles learned ‘the Power of Positive Thinking’ through giving her body nutrients it needs to strengthen its immune system. Charles ended up doing crazy things to make her body fight back stronger like getting in touch with her creativity and trying to
unconsciously make her body get rid of her cancer. Though she ended up not getting a secondary spread of cancer, I still questioned whether it was the effect of all this extra work that helped her. Then I found a contradicting article on the American Cancer Society’s website stating that there is not good evidence to support the assumption that positive thinking can reduce the risk of cancer or keep if from coming back. Things like imaginary, hypnosis, or relaxation can be used to reduce the distress that often comes with a cancer diagnosis or help someone cope with cancer, but it may not cure it. Taking in the valid information from both these articles I can conclude that having a positive attitude and taking care of your body through treatments and diagnostics can help you deal with cancer. However, it is not proven that it will cure cancer. In his past Craig has done some pretty outgoing activities. Things like skiing, flying airplanes, biking, swimming, and scuba diving was part of his day to day routine. Now 61 Craig has gone through extensive radiation to treat melanoma. When I asked Craig to describe the day he was diagnosed with cancer, he simply replied, “It was terrible.”
It was that simple. Before he was “officially” diagnosed with cancer, Craig discovered a lump in his arm. At the doctor’s Nancy and Craig knew he had cancer, but they both hoped it would be a different type. “I was actually the person that told him,” stated Nancy. Being a nurse, Nancy was able to check his results on his health record. During a trip to visit her parents, Nancy checked Craig’s health record and discovered it was not a good diagnosis. “I went in with my family and we all started crying,” Nancy said. “It is one of the most difficult cancers to overcome.” Having pet scans twice a year allows them to know whether Craig’s cancer has come back. The first three CAT scans have been clear. Celebrating the clear scan Nancy and Craig buy a bottle of champagne and celebrate with whoever is around. Curious about Craig’s plans for the future I asked him and Nancy what they were focusing on now. “We do plan to do a lot of stuff. Maybe take that cruise to Australia,” said Craig while smiling and looking at Nancy. However, Nancy had another orientation on the topic, “We go from scan to scan. It’s scary to think about what we are going to do when we are 70.” Craig’s dreams for their future involve adventure, like their past. However, Nancy’s plans for their future revolve around making sure they are realistic about their dreams. Craig life is different than it was, it is now his new normal. Before his diagnosis he was independent and carefree, but now he has become more dependent on Nancy, his friends and family around him. His family has helped him
cope with cancer, and Craig has found out who his real friends are. But what really keeps Craig going his entire support group. When he was diagnosed with melanoma he got so much support from everyone. He has Nancy, and friends and family who help push him to do the best Craig can in his situation. According to Craig, if he would suddenly die right now, he would be happy for what he has accomplished throughout his life. While there are still dreams he would like to realize, like going on a 30 day cruise with Nancy to Australia. But because of his constant pain in his left arm he has to live day-by-day and stay optimistic. Craig is a smart, funny, adventurous, positive, and caring guy who unfortunately was diagnosed with Melanoma skin cancer. However, being the fun outgoing person he is, Craig is able to live life to the fullest no matter what life throws at him. Whether or not positive thinking will cure cancer, it is good to stay open minded. Which is exactly what Craig tries to do everyday and his wife Nancy says, “I don’t think it is hard be optimistic. If you are living by day, then we have today and it makes it easier and when something comes up that we have to deal with. Then we will work on that. I just live like every day in the present. We make sure that he makes the most of every day.”
~Written By Courtney Cooper
Bibliography “Attitudes and Cancer.” Attitudes and Cancer. American Cancer Society, 28 Oct. 2011. Web. 24 Sept. 2012. Charles, Rachel. “The Power of Positive Thinking.” New Approaches to Cancer. New Approches to Cancer, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2012. Colbert, Craig. Personal Interview. September 6, 2012. September 16, 2012 Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Radiation Therapy: Definition.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 16 July 2011. Web. 24 Sept. 2012. “Stages of Melanoma.” The Stages of Melanoma. Skin Cancer Foundation, n.d. Web. 24