Monday, February 28, 2011

World Cup of Hockey Ticket (8/31/96)

Sometimes I look back in my writing journals to see what I was doing on days of years past. I looked up 2/28 in my past two journals to see what I was doing…

Two years ago, I went to see a Pearl Jam cover band, Backseat Lover at Tammany Hall in Worcester.

Last year, I watched the USA-Canada Gold Medal Hockey Game with my family and most of Canada, so I thought this ticket from a game I went to in 1996 would be a good scan for today.

In the summer of 1996, my then girlfriend was living in Philadelphia and I went to visit her on Labor Day weekend. I don’t remember how I found out about this World Cup of Hockey game, but I knew I had to be there.

I called a few ticket agencies, and found one that had a couple of seats beyond my budget but within my credit card limit. I was psyched. It was the first event at the CoresStates Center, and the seats I got were great.

The US won this game (that featured NHL teammates playing against each other), and went on to win the entire tournament. The best part was that the players weren’t playing like it was an All-Star Game or even The Olympics. They were playing like it was a Stanley Cup Final. Definitely worth the price I paid.

Oh, did I mention that I love hockey?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Social Network from Netflix (What would my status updates have been when I was a freshman?)

Facebook didn’t exist when I was in college. A few people I knew had email, and I remember my junior year being part of my first instant messaging experience. I made it through four years undergrad at Boston College and two years getting my Master’s at Wheelock College without even owning a computer. I know I am dating myself, but these are the facts. After recently watching The Social Network, I thought it might be amusing to see what would have been some of my status updates in my four years at Boston College…

Here are some that would have been entered for my first year followed by more thoughts about the movie – I tried as much as possible to use the correct dates for when everything actually happened using my medical records and internet searches…

August 31, 1992 2:07 PM – Just arrived at Gonzaga with my fam, it’s wicked hot out and I’m the only one in my room. I’m betting I’m the only one in my dorm who went through chemotherapy for a brain tumor this summer…

Dave McGrath is now friends with Patrick Salmon

September 2, 1992 7:34 PM – Met the new roommates and told one of them about my cancer. That was a lot harder than I thought it was gonna be…

September 4, 1992 11:32 AM – Off to UMass in “Woostah” for my sixth round of chemo, hope all the hot nurses are workin’ this weekend!

September 5, 1992 12:00 PM – May be in the hospital, but still watching the first BC Football game…GO EAGLES!!!

September 5, 1992 1:36 PM – Halftime of BC-“Rutgahs” and I’m being interviewed for the Worcester Telegram! (35 people like this)

September 6, 1992 8:04 PM – First day of school tomorrow…

September 8, 1992 1:15 PM – Some dude in my dorm didn’t believe me when I told him my pre-chemo senior prom picture was me. Ouch. Told him about the big “C” too…

September 8, 1992 3:16 PM Just saw the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen in one of my psych classes…

September 10, 1992 1:55 PM – Just puked at The Rat into the garbage in front of everyone, that was fun…thanks for the help, Chris!

Dave McGrath is now friends with Tim St. Louis

September 14 2:07 PM – Thought about preaching to a few cigarette smokers on campus, but kept my mouth shut…

September 16, 1992 10:11 AM – Happy Birthday, Ca!

September 16, 1992 12:17 PM Going back to UMass today, damn low counts and fever…

September 18, 1992 2:32 PM – at least Benadryl in the IV is nice…

September 21, 1992 4:05 PM – Still in the hospital, but a guy from my dorm lent me NHL Hockey ’93 for my Sega…off to play

September 22, 1992 11:30 AM – is listening to new Extreme album his brother Jon brought him on the Discman he lent him…thanks, Jon!

September 23, 1992 10:02 AM – Been at the hospital for a week now…Happy Birthday, Dad!

September 26, 1992 8:03 PM – thinks Tragic Comic is one of the best songs ever written…

September 27, 1992 2:30 PM – Being discharged today! Also, met with radiologist and he said I won’t be needing radiation…Great news, but doesn’t surprise me! (102 people like this)

September 28, 1993 5:00 PM – my RA left me a bunch of angry notes asking why I wasn’t attending any hall meetings. Sorry dude, I was in the hospital because of cancer…

September 28, 1993 5:05 PM – just made my RA feel like crap and he apologized for not knowing what was going on...

October 5, 1992 10:10 AM - Happy Birthday, Mom!

October 8, 1992 5:33 PM – Off to the “Gahden” for Bruins home opener…go B’s!

October 8, 1992 10:43 PM – Back from game, B’s win in OT!!!!

Dave McGrath is no longer listed as "In a relationship"

October 18, 1992 11:38 AM - Happy Birthday, Tom!

October 31, 1992 10:32 PM – Back from Bruins game with my dad…B’s lose 3-2, but some dude dressed as Pope was ripping up pictures of Sinead O’Connor

November 7, 1992 8:25 PM – tough loss for the Eagles against ND…ouch.

November 24, 1992 11:30 AM – Back home for Turkey Day!

November 26, 1992 12:00 PM – Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26, 1992 3:00 PM – Just took a picture of my father clearing a dish…first time for everything!

November 27, 1992 12:47 PM – Getting ready for some post-Turkey Day street hockey at Fales…all are welcome to join!

November 28, 1992 8:04 PM – Have you ever been to Mass and the sermon was about you?

Dave is now friends with Wendy Douglas

December 11, 1992 11:43 AM – Happy Birthday, Meg…welcome to your teens!!

December 14, 1992 – “FUCK FINAL!” – Written on a stall in Gonzaga Hall Men’s Room

December 18, 1992 2:46 PM – Off to the ‘Boro for XMAS…see ya later, BC!

January 19, 1993 3:33 PM – Back on The Heights, B’s just tied the Isle…dammit

January 22, 1993 6:48 PM – off to Godzilla Burger with the guys from the dorm and after that: party on Comm Ave!

January 22, 1993 8:22 PM – Where have you been all my life?

January 23, 1993 12:05 AM – Puked all over myself at party, thank you to Patrick and Chris for carrying me home…music before sleep, I’m thinkin’ Commitments…

January 23, 1993 10:32 AM – Back from brunch at McElroy, just found out hot girl from psych class saw me being carried home last night…D’oh!

January 23, 1993 1:45 PM – Best line from last night. My friend Mike’s friend: I think your friend spilled his beer. Tim: I think he spilled his lunch!

January 25, 1993 6:03 PM – Off to Orpheum with Tom, Patrick, and Tony to see Extreme!!!

February 5, 1993 9:04 PM – Back from skating at Conte with Patrick…ran into Wendy there

February 14, 1993 1:12 PM – just posted entire lyrics to “Cupid’s Dead” on my door

February 20, 1993 12:34 PM – thinks he may have talked to his cousin Katie on the phone last night…will have to check with Patrick

March 5, 1993 3:33 PM – Time for Spring Break! Got a great package that included free transportation, room, and food…going home.

March 17, 1993 3:05 PM – 22???????????????? (My housing lottery number out of 2000something) – only 21 students with worse numbers than me.

March 17, 1993 7:07 PM – Back from Chansky’s with Chris, gonna attempt to forget lottery number…

March 31, 1993 2:15 PM – just wrote poem titled “Sad Deathnight!”

March 31, 1993 7:49 PM – Surprise bday visit from the parents…thanks, Mom and Dad!

April 10, 1993 5:03 PM – Everyone come over to Bowman Street for B’s-Habs game!!!

April 18, 1993 6:45 – off to Walsh Hall to watch B’s playoff game against Sabres…go B’s!

April 18, 1993 10:40 PM – Ouch. Damn you, Sabres.

April 24, 1993 7:30 PM – B’s may get swept tonight, but I’m going to see My Mother’s Fleabag!

April 24, 1993 10:14 PM – B’s swept, but Fleabag was great and Amy Poehler stole the show!

April 25, 1993 4:12 PM – Just won a lip-synch contest with Tim St. Louis performing Denis Leary’s Asshole! Off to be Patrick’s confirmation sponsor…

April 30, 1993 8:43 PM – heading out to off campus “shin dig” with the buds…

May 1, 1993 2:15 PM – last night included: running away from my friends at the party, being picked up and handcuffed by BC cops, and taken to BC infirmary by BCPD…ugh

May 13, 1993 3:00 PM – Survived my first year at BC!!!

May 20, 1993 4:26 PM – Heading to Bull and Finch to watch last episode of Cheers on a big outdoor screen…psyched, but sad.

So, back to the Social Network/Facebook movie….

It was interesting, but definitely not a best picture. I love movies that are true stories, and was surprised I hadn’t found this Chasing the Frog website before. I always check out the IMDB Goofs after watching movies based on true stories, and this one had a few. But, I dug deeper to see what else I could find online relating to the true story of Facebook. Here are some of the things I found:

Articles from The Crimson about Mark Zuckerberg.

Annotated Guide to Crimson Articles mentioned in the Social Network.

The actual Animal Cruelty Article from The Crimson, that doesn’t mention Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin by name.

The Synapse website that was Zuckerberg’s senior year project in high school.

An article by Facebook Co-founder Eduardo Saverin What I Learned From Watching “The Social Network” (I honestly can’t believe this guy has a Facebook page and wants anything to do with the site. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand…)

So, Mr. Zuckerberg, where does Facebook go from here? I’d like to have 7 billion friends. Can Facebook make everyone on earth friends with each other? If not, what’s the point? And for the Love of God, why can’t you make Facebook have the same music pages that Myspace does?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tales of the Lost Formicans Program (Clark University, 2/26/11)

After browsing Worcester’s Cultural Calendar online this afternoon, I found this play the Clark University Theater Department was presenting. The price was definitely right, so my girlfriend and I went to check it out after our first stop at Beatnik’s.

The play had sex, drugs, rock n’ roll, cursing, multiple generations, aliens, and a nurse (it was a male nurse, so I didn’t get too excited – but in case you didn’t know, I Love Nurses). Add those ingredients to a lot of great delivery that made me laugh, and you have a performance I really enjoyed.

I won’t go into details with individual performances, but everyone did a great job. I could feel the emotion, conflict, and drive to find peace in each character. And the crowd definitely responded.

I think the point of all art is to move you in some way - make you laugh, think, or feel. This play did that to me, and I will take that anytime over some dumb reality TV show. I also really want to read the script now…great job Clark U Theater!

Okay, third period…go B’s!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kidney Stone Hospital Bracelet (October 29, 2002)

It was late October in 2002 and I was psyched because I had just bought the new Grand Theft Auto game, Vice City. I had been playing it for a while after work and started getting a weird feeling in my back. I thought maybe I had been sitting on the couch the wrong way and was cramped, so I readjusted my position. It didn’t seem to help.

5 minutes later, I was in agony (Keep in mind, I had been dealing with Crohn’s Disease for about 14 years, went through six grueling months of chemotherapy for a cancerous brain tumor, and had been hit by a Ford Bronco while crossing the street. All of those made me pretty familiar with Mr. Pain, but this was like none of them). I crawled upstairs and started knocking on my roommate’s door. “Dude, I have to go to the hospital…”

As we made our way to the car, my roommate asked me where the pain was. After I told him, he suspected it might be a kidney stone. He was relatively new to Waltham, so I tried my best to direct him to the hospital as I was hunched over in the passenger seat. I remember looking up and seeing he was going the wrong way. “No, no, other way. Other way…”

We finally got to the hospital and even though I was experiencing the worst pain of my life, the ER receptionist still made me give her all of my information. I kept thinking, Jesus just get me a doctor and some pain meds, PLEASE. Even after I was done “checking in”, I still wasn’t brought into a room right away.

Eventually, I was put on a bed and was given some pain meds. They didn’t start giving me the really “good stuff” until the scans came back and confirmed I really had a kidney stone. By that time, my parents had arrived and the kind nurse gave me some morphine. I told my mom, “Oh, now I know why people are addicted to this.” Then I told the nurse, “As soon as you can give me more of that, I’d really appreciate it.” Then, I threw up.

They released me later that night/early morning with a prescription to some heavy pain medication. I was happy to be able to go back to my apartment, but upset I had missed my first Focusin show. I was eager to get back to killing people in Vice City.

I have since gotten another kidney stone, and both of my ER doctors told me they had female patients who had given birth and had kidney stones (not at the same time), and said the kidney stones were more painful. That’s good to know…

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wedding Invitation from My Ex-Fiancee

Eight years ago on Valentine’s Day, I asked my then girlfriend to marry me, and she said yes. I’ve never been a big fan of Vday, so I thought it would surprise her and I was right. We were engaged until that July, when she called it off just a few days before I was planning on moving 1200 miles to live with her. It really sucked.

But, I had my awesome family and friends to catch me from the fall. And I also had a sweet grill everyone pitched and gave me at what my friends and I now jokingly refer to as the “Dave’s Moving Away But He Didn’t Party”. I had resigned from my position as lead teacher at a special ed school, so I was without a job. I did end up finding a job, and that job led to my first published book, E-lationship. So it helped me to keep believing (see also Crohn’s and brain cancer) that everything happens for a reason.

I did stay in touch with my ex and we emailed from time to time, but I wasn’t expecting to be invited to her wedding – which was happening only three years after we were engaged. So, I was pretty shocked when I got this in the mail:

I don’t think I emailed her about the invite (I could be wrong), but as you can see from the return envelope, I never sent back a reply. It was tough for me to know she was getting married, but I kept trying to look at the positives. One, it was a good thing that things didn’t work out between her and me BEFORE I moved and BEFORE we got married. Two, it led to me being able to call myself a published author – something I had wanted for a long time. Three, it led me to a very important life lesson:

When things don’t work out in life (whether it’s a relationship, plans, a job), you have two choices. You can dwell on it, be miserable, and hate whatever got in your way, or you can move on. I’ve found that being resentful and hating someone or something or some situation really has no function. Of course there are times to be upset, but staying in that negativity is not going to improve your situation. It’s a lot like cancer. It’s how I dealt with it and how I see many of the Hope Lodge guests deal with it. Yeah, I have cancer and that sucks – but I’m not going to let it get in the way of my life and as much as I can I’m not going to let it dictate how I feel.

I really want a world where everyone gets along. I know it seems impossible, but I think we fight over ridiculous things and hold grudges way too long for stupid reasons. I could choose to let this invitation bother me today, but I don’t. If I want the whole world to get along, I have to include myself in that equation. And if I can’t get along with and be happy for someone I was engaged to, what chance does the world have?

My ex has since told me about her first child, and I am happy for her, her husband, and their new family. This invite may have hurt me when I received it in the mail, but I made the decision to move on. If you’ve had your heart broken recently, you may think this is nuts, but you have to trust me…you can make it get better. Anytime you can decrease the negative energy you send out to the world has to be a good thing, right? I know it feels better to me…

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Note from a Girl (2005)

It was the Fall of 2005, and I had been on a few dates with this girl. One night, she and I were hanging out with my roommate. She brought her guitar over and we jammed on a few songs together. Then, she and my roommate started drinking like they had been waiting for the week to end. She stayed over for the night, left me this note in the morning, and I never saw her again:

But, the funny part came later…

A day or two after we hung out, I couldn’t find the capo for my guitar. I looked everywhere in my room, but it wasn’t to be found. I was pissed…she had taken my capo! I told my roommate, “Dude, can you believe it? She took my f’n capo!” It’s not like they cost a lot of money, I just couldn’t believe anyone would take something from me. And, I wasn’t about to call her and ask her – I really had no interest in seeing her again. So, I went out and bought another capo.

Then, a month or so later I was in my room, and my capo reappeared. I think I just started laughing and said, “Oh, there’s my capo.” My roommate thought it was pretty funny after hearing my false accusation.

But, I have since lost one of those capos. I’m thinking I must have “loaned” it to someone at the 2008 Focusin reunion…

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Teacher Bumper Sticker

I was sifting through a pile of random notes, cards, and tickets, and came across this bumper sticker I got when I was a special ed teacher back in 2005. I bought it at an anti-war rally in Washington, DC, and put it up on my classroom door. You can read the story about going to the rally in my article for the Westborough News here.

Although I have run across a few teachers that I wouldn’t trust running the country, most of the people I met in education shared my thoughts on most issues. Teachers I have known have been thoughtful, hard working, underpaid, creative, caring, and funny. They take their jobs home with them, provide an immeasurable service to our youth, and many work with students that would rather be somewhere else.

If you want one or know a teacher who deserves one, I did find two websites that sell them: Here and here.

And if you haven’t, hug a teacher today!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tickets to Motley Crue and Foo Fighters at The Centrum in Worcester, MA (1987, 2008)

I have been going to concerts for almost 24 years. Thanks to my grandmother telling my mother she couldn’t see The Beatles because their “hair was too long”, my mother let me go to any concert I wanted to growing up. It all started back in the summer of 1987 when my older brother Jon took me to see “The Crue” at The Centrum, a story you can read at my Motley Crue T-shirt blog from last year.

The world has been through many changes since that August night, but a few things have remained the same…

I’m still going to see rock concerts in “Woostah”.

In between Motley Crue and Foo Fighters, I’ve also seen Stryper, Poison, Slaughter, Winger, Kiss, Extreme, Motley Crue (again), Deftones, White Zombie, Pantera, Bruce Springsteen, Korn, Van Halen, and Flogging Molly in Worcester (I’m sure there are others, but this is what I just came up with).

As you can see from the seating chart, I’m usually not seeing this bands from the front row.

But, a couple of things have also changed…

The first thing I notice us the “price” and “total” being the same for the Motley Crue ticket, only $17.50. The $8.25 convenience charge of my 2008 ticket is almost half of the 1987 price. Interestingly, when I used this Inflation Calculator, it says what cost $17.50 in 1987 would cost $32.75 in 2008 (This other one came up with $33.17).

Also, we wouldn’t have dared bring a camera into that Motley Crue show. Now, with just about every cell phone having a camera/video function, there’s not much security can do about taking pictures during a show (see my friend Glen and I at Foo Fighters along with a couple pics of the band).

As long as some band I like is still playing music and I can afford a ticket, I will keep going to concerts. More rock show ticket scans to come…

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Denis Leary Autograph (1997)

My man-crush on Denis Leary is no secret. You can read all about it on the blog for my Rescue Me T-shirt.

I’ve been lucky to have met Denis a few times.

The first was after a Bruins-Rangers game the day after I turned 21. My father and I were at “The Gahden” “wicked early” to watch the teams warm up. I will never forget watching Mark Messier take the ice and circle towards me. I was right up against the glass and was mentally begging him to look at me. When he was only a few feet away from me, he looked right at me and I flipped him off. His facial expression (one of “Did he just do that?”) told me that he definitely saw my “greeting”. So, before the game I said f- you to one of my least favorite players, and after the game I met Denis. Other than the B’s losing, it was an awesome day.

The autograph I got from Denis was a few years later at the Newbury Comics in Burlington, MA. Denis was promoting his new CD Lock ‘N Load, and signed autographs after doing a 30-minute musical set. I had him sign my No Cure For Cancer book “From one asshole to another”, and he got a kick out of that. He also laughed when I told him that I went to St. John’s and that “St. Peter’s” sucked. Even though it is now called Saint Peter-Marian, Denis and I went to rival high schools.

The other times I met Denis, he was just as friendly and made him even more of a hero to me. Looking forward to the next time, and hoping somehow I can get him to join me in Skating for Hope

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Letter from Cousin Kate (July 2, 1994)

I love my family. They are always there for me, and they always make me laugh.

When I was away in Maine teaching summer camp in 1994, I got this letter from my cousin:

I’m glad to report that Westborough is still a nice, quite town. And, I still enjoy walking at the Nature Trail.

I am also living proof of the medical divineness of Dr. Bob – he was the reason for the surgery that discovered my Crohn’s and why I used visualization to beat brain cancer.

I’m very happy to report that 17 years later, I am still friends with Matt and Glen.

I thought today would be a good day to scan this letter because my sister hosted a “4th of July in February” party. Like all McGrath gatherings, it was full of laughter, reminiscing, plenty of delicious food, and hockey on the TV. The sight of my father grilling hamburgers in the snow was priceless…

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tragic Comic Note (2005)

Like my Tragic Comic T-shirt suggested, I identify with this moniker. I don’t expect people to call me “Tragic Comic”, but it does make me smile when it happens. This note was also part of (thanks to my awesome sister Carolyn) the cover to my first book of poetry, Poems from a Tragic Comic.

Life has taught me many things, but of those things one of the most important is to keep laughing no matter what comes your way. Crohn’s, cancer, and drinking are all challenges I faced and still deal with in some way today. What got me through the hardest times was trying to find humor each day – it might have been a funny movie, standup comedy CD, or just making jokes with family and friends; but it all helped me to deal with a less than ideal situation.

So, next time something crappy happens, try to remember the Tragic Comic. Rather than dwelling on how unlucky you are, remind yourself that somewhere someone is worse off than you. Be thankful for what you do have, and find humor in something every day. My name is Dave, and I’m a tragic comic for life…

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rejection Letter from Boston College Stylus (4/6/94)

At the end of my freshman year of college, my English teacher read some of my poems and suggested I submit some of them to The Stylus at BC. I did my sophomore year, but didn’t quite get the results I wanted:

All of my dorm buddies had my back, though. They all thought it was crap that I didn’t get published, and were ready to “protest” with me. When the Stylus Spring ’94 came out, I took a bunch of copies back to the dorm, ready to shred them ritualistically in front of my supporters. One of my peers took it a step further (Roncalli Hall was not known for having the highest GPA that year), and burned them in the wastebasket. The fire alarm went off, but no firefighters were needed. It was awesome.

Still, I kept writing poems and used the rejection as fuel. Since, I’ve published four volumes of poetry: Poems from a Tragic Comic: Surviving cancer, drinking, and women, Poetry Volume II: Swirls of the World and More on the Flavory Girls, III Sides to Every Poem, and Episode IV Play: 40 Selected Poems. Thanks to all those who have inspired and/or been supportive of my poetry over the years!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CVS Receipt

I’ve been feeling like crap the last couple days. Hope this helps. I’m off to lie down…

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Letter from Justin (1993)

Sometimes it’s hard for me to think/write about Justin, but I have to write about Justin…

I met him when I was in the middle of treatment for my cancerous brain tumor. I was 18, he was only 10, but we got along right away. We both loved the Red Sox and laughed as much as we could while getting our treatment.

We requested to share a room whenever we were hospitalized at the same time, and it was easy for me to feed off of Justin’s courage and positive attitude towards cancer. He also taught me how to run the IV machine, which is handy when you want that annoying beeping to stop.

After I was finished treatment, Justin and I kept in touch and hung out a few times when I was home from college. Here’s a letter he wrote me towards the end of my freshman year:

When I was a junior in college I was two years removed from my last chemo round, but two years into my struggle with drinking. I drank so much the last time, that I almost killed myself. I had to be treated at the “regular” hospital and went to McLean’s for my second stint in rehab.

While I was going through all of this, Justin’s battle with cancer was becoming too much for his body to handle. He was only 13 and when he knew things weren’t looking too good, he asked his mother to call me so he could see me another time. My parents and doctors thought it was in my best interest to stay in treatment, so no one told me about Justin’s condition.

Justin passed away, and my father told me one day while I was at McLean’s. I lost it, threw a chair, pushed people out of my way, and retreated to my room where I cried for a long time.

Although I was pissed no one told me until after, I now understand why. And I also know it was my fault that I wasn’t able to see Justin. It was my decision to drink that landed me where I was, and no one else’s. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive myself for not being there for Justin, but I also know that what happened made it easy for me to never drink again.

I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you, buddy. You helped me get through two of the most difficult things I’ve faced, and I will never forget that…

Two years ago, I made Justin a luminary bag at the ACS Relay for Life. Someone who was walking in a group with Justin’s mother saw it and pointed it out to her. Justin’s mom came to the Hope Lodge tent and asked who made the bag. My boss pointed her to me, and I talked to Justin’s mother and told her how much he affected my life and how much I thought about him. It really felt like it was part of a movie…

Monday, February 14, 2011

BC Beanpot - 1994 Boston Globe Headline and 2004 Note from a Friend

When I was at BC, the hockey program was struggling. They had a 9-24-5 record when I was a freshman and sophomore year wasn’t much better. In the 1994 Beanpot, #2 Harvard had defeated #1 BU in the first round while BC squeaked by Northeastern in double OT. I’m pretty sure that made Harvard #1 when BC played them in the final, but the Eagles were definitely huge underdogs. On the back of stellar goaltending by Greg Taylor, BC beat “Hahvahd” and took the 1994 Beanpot. This was the headline from the Boston Globe the next day (which I added to my door with this, this, this, and this):

It was the only highlight for BC hockey during my 4 years at Chestnut Hill, but it was a memorable one. Jerry York took over as coach when I was a junior, and the program hasn’t looked back since (National Champs in 2001, 2008, and 2010).

BC beat BU in OT to capture the 2004 Beanpot, and my friend/neighbor left me this note the next day:

“N” and I became friends when we started talking about our special ed jobs and our love of the Red Sox. We went to the 2004 Red Sox Home Opener, and watched a few Sox games together. Then, our friendship ended.

I don’t know if this has happened to other people out there, but it’s happened to me a few times. No more friendly notes, no more calls, and no more hanging out. The weirdest part about it all was that she lived in the same building as me, and she even stopped saying “hi” in passing. And I understand when you lose touch with someone, but this seemed different.

Anyway, I gave up trying to reconnect and/or get an explanation and that was that. She ended up saying hi to me eventually, to which I replied “Hi?”.

One of the toughest life lessons I’ve learned over the years is everyone has their reasons for doing what they do and sometimes you don’t get to know these reasons. When things like this happen, you can dwell or move on. This note reminds me that sometimes people’s actions don’t make sense, but they’re going to do what they want to do regardless. If you’re lucky to have family and friends that you know will be there no matter what, then you’re lucky enough…


Sunday, February 13, 2011

UMass Cancer Survivor's Day 1993 (Invite, Program, Worcester Telegram Article)

It was 9 months after my last round of chemotherapy for my cancerous brain tumor, and I had just finished my first year of college. After receiving the invite in the mail, my doctor (Molly Schwenn) invited me to be one of the speakers. She had just been one of my strongest allies in my battle with cancer, so it was easy for me to say yes.

I love the lineup of speakers in the program. MD, MD, MD, Dave, MD. It would have been even better if they just wrote “Dave” instead of David McGrath. I was only 19, but I knew those letters didn’t make them better speakers. I doubted any of them were going to talk about being an 18-year-old with a cancerous brain tumor, and that’s what I did.

Like the article says, I opened with a poem I wrote, What She Is, and then started to talk about my diagnosis and treatment at UMass. I talked about how I was also went o UMass for my Crohn’s Disease, and how confident I felt with their treatment. The doctors and nurses at UMass made me feel at ease, well informed, and as comfortable one can be in a hospital setting.

Even though I realized how important my top-notch UMass treatment was, I went on to share what I thought was the reason my chemotherapy worked. The love and support I received from my family is the reason I was able to beat cancer. They knew I had to do it my way, and they were behind me every step of the way. They could tell I wasn’t afraid, and made sure not to show any of their fear in front of me.

My friends were the same. I then talked about a 10-year-old I had met while in treatment. His name was Justin, and his tumor was on his brain stem. This kid was 8 years younger than me, and had even more courage. He had been in treatment for well over a year, and had a few remissions and relapses. Still, I saw the same attitude with Justin and his family as I did with me and mine.

We had cancer. But, we still laughed. We still watched the Red Sox. We still did things with our family and friends. As much as we could, we didn’t let cancer interrupt our lives. This is the lesson cancer taught me:

If you can’t live life with love and humor, there really is no point. Life is always going to throw you sucky days. Sometimes you get a flat tire or in car accident. Sometimes you throw up a lot from chemotherapy. Sometimes a person at work drives you nuts. Sometimes your team loses the big game. Sometimes your best friend sues you. But, you make it through and go onto the next day. You watch a funny movie or hang out with a friend, and you feel thankful. No matter what kind of day you had, you still live, laugh, and love.

The most important thing in life is the people you have in yours…

Damn, I’m lucky.