My Cancer Story


Posted 23 January 2016

There’s no doubt about it, having cancer sucks. This blog has been, so far, mostly a litany of problems and challenges.

What’s been most surprising, though, is all the good changes that have come along with having my life turned upside down.

Knowing that you probably have a relatively short time left has an incredibly powerful focusing effect. I have completely restructured how I spend my time and energy.

I am grateful for being able to largely retire, letting go of a vast range of things that I just don’t need to think about any more (like sales development). My chosen lifestyle of building one startup business after another was a high-stress way to live, and it has been a great relief to decide to call it a day with regard to my career.

I am grateful that Webvanta is is solid shape, with great customers, clear focus, and a team that will carry it forward. I’ll contribute to a project or two, but I’ll have only a minor role in the business.

I am grateful for the changes in my lifestyle. Now that I don’t need to spend so much time on work, I am much more relaxed. I spend more time sitting and talking with friends and family, and many relationships have become closer. I’ve spent more time with old friends in the past couple months than in the past 10 years.

I am grateful that I have the tools, the skills, and (so far) the presence of mind to write and publish what I want. I have tried to write regularly for many years, but it has never happened — until the past few weeks. The cancer experience is the story that got me going, but I have a broad range of essays that have been running around in my head for years, and soon they are going to make it out into this website.

I am grateful that I live in a community that has all kinds of resources to support seriously ill residents, and that I have a top-notch collection of doctors and hospital facilities available to me.

Above all, I am incredibly grateful that I have such a loving, supportive wife in Irene, and that my children Amanda and Gregory are both out on their own and doing great — and are here visiting every week.

On a Related Note

This post was inspired by a wonderful, tiny little book by Oliver Sacks, Gratitude. It is his last published book, a collection of four short essays that he wrote near the end of his life. He is one of my heroes, having pursued throughout his life one passion after another, writing a book about each one.

Much of this little book resonated deeply with me, none so much as this paragraph from the second essay, My Own Life:

Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life. On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.



Dear Michael, Thanks so much for your personal posts about the challenges and silver linings of your journey through cancer. Your writing is clear and articulate, and overall you sound positive. Christopher and I are holding the vision that your creative expression is uplifting your physical body as well as your spirit, sending messages of healing to every cell. We look forward to reading your updates and future essays on various topics. You have our love and good thoughts for your comfort, healing, and wholeness.


Your writings are a joy to read and inspiring. This post has stayed with me since I read it a few days ago, bringing thoughts of the fragility of life and the importance of stopping to smell the roses. Your thoughts and spiritedness have another sweet effect, and that is a sense of wanting to treasure you all the more for the time you have with us.

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