Chemo Accomplished

September 28, 2001|

Chemo Accomplished

I just want to write a quick note of what is going on here. This past Wednesday I started my latest round of chemotherapy (ProMace-MOPP). I will be doing the first round of treatments in New York City, and if all goes well (translation: nodes shrink, pain decreases), then I will continue the treatment schedule in Youngstown. For now, though, that means driving to NYC next Wednesday and in three weeks. This is a strong regimen of chemo, but definitely manageable. I am currently taking steriods to boost my immune system and in two weeks will start giving myself shots of white blood cells. As for other side effects, I imagine I will become fatigued easier and I might lose my hair come November or December or so. In terms of how long I will be doing this regimen, it all depends. I am guessing at least until Decemember. After that, it’s Bone Marrow time.

Keep in touch and e-mail. Later!

Take my Biopsy, Please!

September 19, 2001|

Take my Biopsy, Please!

I am happy to say that my biopsy went off without a hitch yesterday. The doctors got the needed nodes and I am still alive with the teeniest of pain. Yesterday after the biopsy, though, I was a useless heap of covers and pillows. I felt so absolutely gross and groggy, that I slept the rest of the day and night, getting up only to use the little boy’s room and take my medication. In the meanwhile, because I was staying at friend’s apartment(Jen’s), life pumped on, as guests (John and Laura Jane, Jenny, Court, Esther, etc) poured through, discussing life after the WTC tragedy and catching up on old times. So maybe I wasn’t completely asleep. I still was majorly groggy.

See, personally, I can deal with pain. (I hope I don’t jinx myself with that last statement!) It’s the feeling sick, brain-dead and groggy deal that I have problems with. Pain is temporary and manageable once I get my mind under control. But when I am the latter, I am can’t get my brain under control, so I feel useless and horrible. I am just praying that the next round of ABVD/MOPP chemo is less brain-messin’. Thankfully, I am back on steriods, which should eleviate any major physical problems with the chemo. The steriods also give me the energy of a two-year old on a Pepsi high, and also the bladder of one. It’s like I need Pampers or something. Hopefully you won’t be going on any long road trips with me:)

The Article

Yeah, I made The Youngstown Vindicator again last Saturday. They even used some of web logs! Scary! I better start spell and grammar checking! They also said I was still in the Youngstown Connection:) Doh! Otherwise the article was great, detailing my experiences in NYC during the WTC tragedy. I will post the article later on in the week. Big congrats to Diane Murphy for the great job!

My Schedule

If you could tell, I am back in Youngstown. I drove back this morning, still a little groggy, but plenty fine to navigate my way through the *empty* streets, parkways and expressways of New York City. Everything was empty! It is heartbreaking to see the City this way. Paralyzed like a pup stung by two fat wasp on the paw. The city (and nation) may never be the same.

But I regress. It looks like I have to go back to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to do my next three sets of chemotherapy treatments. Driving, flying, hovercraft, scooter, however. Before Dr. Moskowitz’s hands me off to a doctor in Ohio, he wants to insure the nodes are shrinking again. On top of that, we just can’t do a BMT now (but one in the future is just about guaranteed it appears). The BMT wouldn’t work, my cancer is too advanced. We need to knock it down first with these chemo treatments. So I will be residing in Youngstown, with a few day trips back to NYC for the next four weeks or so.

Thank you for your continued prayers. I STILL keep getting cards and prayer e-mails all the time. It is unreal. Unreal. In the next few weeks I am going to update my e-mail and site, so look for changes and new emails. Remember to use hte email address as the address is no longer accessible. Thank you again, look for another report in a week.

The saga continues…

September 13, 2001|

The saga continues…

Day 3 here in NYC, still reeling from Tuesday. Unreal. It’s still like a movie for us. It’s hard for me to go on my roof, look at the downtown skyline and see the gaping hole left by the WTCs. It’s also hard to fathom that 1 Liberty Plaza, a building that has a many floors occupied by Goldman Sachs employees, is teetering over. The city is so different, like a ghost town. Stores closed up. Few regular cars on the streets of Manhattan. Millitary and police vehicles rolling down the street. The people. No one is smiling. Somber looks. To get to my doctor’s appointment I had to walk by the playground across the street from Sloan-Kettering. Laughter from the tikes and tots echoed through the air along with the only other sound of the ambulance siren.

More to the story

Monday night my work teammates and I were scheduled to have dinner. Just us 6 or so. When I got to Village restuarant I was shocked beyond words to see almost my whole group of co-workers there. That Monday night there was a celebration dinner in honor of me, with all of my past co-workers there (around 40 or so in all)! It was unbelievable. I recieved gifts (and steak!) and cards and even a letter of support from the very CEO of Goldman Sachs, Hank Paulson, who sent his regrets that he couldn’t be there because of an important meeting. It was unreal. Afterwards most of us went to Village Karaoke to sing the night away. It was absolutely wild. That’s why I slept in. That’s why my roommate Trac slept in on Tuesday and tried to get to work late, only to be stopped at a subway station in Brooklyn, far from ground zero. It seems so long ago and unfortunately will get lost in my memory bank, as I was will forever remember what happened the next morning, going to my roof and been capsulated by smoke and debris.

I am not sure what I wrote in my last few posts about my experience, but when I retreive them I will fill in gaps to my story.

In the meanwhile…

I had a doctor’s appointment today. My biopsy will be next Tuesday. My biopsy doctor, Dr. Shaha, was in Denver at the time. He took a bus cross country to get back his patients. That deserves much props. Till then I have to occupy myself. Last night we rented movies at our apartment just to relieve ourselves of the steady stream of news. We don’t have cable or a phone line directly into our apartment, so entertainment is sparing. I tried to go shopping to buy some clothes, since almost everything I own is in Ohio (my dad moved me out three weeks ago). Everything was closed by 5pm. Justifiably so. Tonight maybe more movies or a book to fill in the time and get away from the tragedy. For those trying to reach me via cell phone, good luck. The network is incredibly busy. I will be happy to talk, but it may take awhile. Best way to reach me is email, even though I can only check it once or twice a day.

My East Coast trip is cancelled for now. I am not sure what happens after Tuesday. I will post when I know. For now I have to play it by ear. It’s hard to believe I am writing this, but I can’t wait to do chemotherapy, and I can’t wait to get home.

In all of this it is hard to imagine what God might be doing of saying. It makes my drama seem like a B-rated movie. It’s hard to imagine He’s in control and knows what He’s doing – but seeing how humans are reacting to this, seeing the charity, the love, the brotherhood, the respect, there is no doubt God is working through the midst of this, through us. If my web site hasn’t put a perspective on life to you, I can only hope the “Attack on America” has.

Respectfully yours


All accounted for…

September 12, 2001|

All accounted for…

I am relieved to say that fourth roommate Dan is accounted for. He ended up being trapped in his building, which is four blocks from the WTC, the entire time. I am also relieved to say that all of my friends who were in the neighborhood or building were able to get out in time.

Our cell phones just aren’t working here (overloaded system), so don’t try calling. Send emails with questions or concerns.

I don’t know when I will be able to come home to Youngstown. My biopsy was canceled today. I have an appointment with Dr. Moskowitz to discuss next options.

In terms of what I have observed here in the city, it is so eery and strange. I took the subway up to the Upper East Side this morning (and am still here). The subway was quiet. The streets are empty of cars. Only taxis and buses are on the road. People are very quiet and reserved. It’s beyond anything I have ever seen before.

In a way we are trapped here. Many of bridges have finally opened, but the roadways to get there are closed or jammed with roadblocks. Subways are running, but only above 14th Street. It’s just so surreal.

I will try to give updates as I can. Thanks for the e-mails, concerns, and prayers.


September 11, 2001|


I am sure you have all heard the news of the going ons here in lower Manhattan. First and foremost, as of 4:25pm 3 of 4 roommates are accounted for. Last night my co-workers held a dinner in my honor and we were out late last night karaoking. Trac, roommate 1, was a little hung over and didn’t make it out of the apartment until 9:30am. By that time the subways weren’t running normally and he got diverted back home.

Patrick, roommate 2, had a doctor’s appointment three blocks from the world trade center at 9:30am. He was there for all of the drama, narrowly escaping being enveloped in by the smoke and debris, outrunning it all the way to the east side and then running uptown. He just got home 20 minutes ago.

Dan, roommate 3, is unaccounted for. He works about 4 blocks from the WTC. No word on him, as our cell phones are not working here in the city.

I slept in till 9:45am. I woke up and tried to use my cell phone to check voicemail. The network was busy, tipping me off to something unusual happening. Before jumping into the shower I turned on the TV and was dumbfounded at the reports. I immediately went climbed to the roof and was overcome by smoke and debris. We live about 5 miles from lower Manhattan, but have an incredible view of the skyline. All you could see was smoke covering the skyline. It was like out of a movie.

Last report was that my building, which is on the east side, on the opposited end of the island, was under lock down at 11am. no word on my co-workers yet. No word on friends who work in the building and area.

I am still aghast at the situation. I can’t fathom the new skyline. I can’t take how many people have become casualties. I am going to try to drive home as soon as I can, doing the biopsy and treatment in Youngstown/Cleveland.

Please pray for all involved. I will try to keep you posted on the latest news. Unfortunately I don’t have my computer or a normal phone line. Cell phones aren’t working well. I can check email on my palm, but I don’t think it sends email out. best way to find out what is happening is to contact my parents ( Thank you and be safe.

Is Art Crazy?

Is Art Crazy?


Often times I have been called crazy. The following interaction has occurred numerous times. I tell someone that I have been diagnosed with a highly developed form of cancer. They respond the same way- jaw dropped, eyes set straight ahead- a look of shock and sadness set in.

I cheerfully respond, “It’s gonna be OK…I am going to be fine…God’s got my back…”

The look of shock and sadness is replaced by a look of confusion. “Huh? How can you be so OK? ARE YOU SMOKIN’ CRACK? You have cancer? Chemo? Throwing up- hello…?”

“I can’t explain it,” I answer, “but I am going to be OK. No worries.”

The person ends up walking away, obviously deep in thought, thinking of how THEY would react and feel if they were put in the same situation. Scratching their head, they can’t figure out how I can be so positive and peaceful about such a predicament.

That is a scene I have experienced over and over in the past few months. From close friends and colleagues to total strangers, I have had to the break news to a varied group of people, all with similar results. The question remains, though. How can you be so positive and at peace about such a predicament? I guess part of it comes from my nature. I am a highly energetic optimist who loves nothing better than getting in front of crowd and hamming it up. I guess part of it also comes from having an incredibly supportive family and friend base that are totally behind me on every endeavor, and would sacrifice for me without question. I guess another part may come from my studies, having spent a great deal of time studying human psychology and knowing the positive correlation between positive attitude and patient recovery.

But I think those all pale in comparison to the real answer. You can make the judgement after that.


In the fall of 1999, I was in a giant wrestling match. It wasn’t a physical one, nor was it one where you could see the bruises. Rather it was an intellectual wrestling match. It was in the fall of 1999 that I had come to the crossroad – what did I actually believe? I had been raised a Christian my whole life, having grown up in a Christian home. I had ventured off to college and had my fill of the “freshman experience.” I had my fun and made my mistakes, but I never stopped being a Christian. Then sophomore year I started getting more and more involved in Christian ministries at Penn, especially Campus Crusade for Christ. Junior year I got even more involved on a larger basis, co-chairing Penn’s annual Christian Awareness Week, called “Jesus Week.” In addition to that, I was leading the charge to create a Christian umbrella organization, which would help unify Penn’s segregated Christian groups, helping the Chaplain of the University secure a space for all religious groups to meet and working to create dialogue between all of the religious groups on Penn’s campus.

Senior year I was doing more and more of the same, spending more time on these extra-curricular activities than studying. But something happened senior year. I started learning. I started really studying other religions. I started reading and understanding a lot of psychological studies. A lot of what I read made me really question what I was originally taught. A lot of the material was about evolution and the non-existence of a higher power. In the midst of my senior year, I was experiencing doubt about what I really believed.

“Impossible!” I thought. “How could I, a senior leader in Campus Crusade, the lead proponent of the Christian umbrella organization, how could I be having doubts about my faith?”

But the doubts were there. And who could I talk to? No one would understand I thought. Everyone believes so deeply here. These smart kids at Penn, they don’t doubt. So I internalized it, and internalized it, and internalized it. Finally it crept into my everyday living. It was killing me.

Skip ahead to January. I still had my doubts, but I wrote in my journal one day, “…while reading the story of Joseph (in Genesis), I realize that many of God’s leaders go through an intense period of difficulty and uncertainty, only to eventually come out on top. Have I gone through that? I feel like I have somewhat. But in the same token I want to go through that, so that I can be that kind of man of God…Lord if I need more to increase my faith – bring it on!”

A month later one of my best friends severely broke her leg after hitting a patch of ice and skiing directly into a tree. On the drive home from visiting her, I revealed my secret doubts to a friend who had accompanied me on the visit. It was one of those deep conversations you have with someone, where you share something deep and they do the same thing. Total bonding. So anyway, I told her I was having doubts about the existence of God and Jesus and about my faith in Christianity.

She had a simple answer for me – ask God to reveal himself to you. Simple as that. No need to intellectualize, no need to read tons of books, no need to debate with others- just ask God to reveal Himself to you. So I did.

A week later I had the most intense pain I have ever felt in my life in my back. After a 6am visit to the ER I was diagnosed with a kidney stone. The pain was so intense, and there was no stopping it, and I kept on asking for God, and I got no answer. I was heartbroken. When I thought I needed God most, he deserted me and didn’t take the pain away. The next week a row of lymph nodes on my right neck popped up like a mini-mountain range and I went into see more doctors. A few days later I was sent up to the 15th floor of the Penn Tower where I was told I most likely had cancer.

Walking back from that appointment my mind went blank. I had no clue what to think. There was no emotion, no tears, nothing. It was a feeling of total blankness. That night I prayed to God a simple prayer. I just asked that if this was Him, that He take care of me and that it be His will and that He reveal Himself to me. I have never ever slept so well as I slept that night. (And keep in mind that previous that night, I had not slept well in over two months because of night sweats caused by the Hodgkin’s and because of the kidney stone and its pain!)

I woke up the next morning with this amazing feeling, this energy that I cannot do justice with words. I literally felt God inside of me. I felt the peace of a higher presence. I felt the positive energy that would carry me throughout the rest of the school year. I knew deep down that I was going to be all right. So that’s when I started having my conversations with people and telling them that I was going to be OK and that God had my back. I now knew, for sure, three things. I knew there was a God, I knew He had this all planned out, and I knew that I was going to be all right.

Since then I have been through more than I thought I would go through. Despite it all- the surprises, the pain, the sickness, the suffering, the people, the doctors, the nurses, the family members, the friends, the hospitals, the moves, the pills- I know there is God who is on my side. I asked him and looked what happened- He answered me. It wasn’t what I expected or would have thought it would have turned out, but He answered me. It is so cool to have a relationship with the God who created the universe and to know he knows and cares for me! That gives me the hope and peace to get through it all.

Despite the fact that there is a chance I may never be completely cancer-free, I know God is going to take care of me. You too can have an experience like this. Maybe not the whole cancer deal, but a similar experience. If you seek Him, he will allow you to find Him. He will reveal Himself to you. It is up to you to believe it or not. We have a choice. Born in all of us is a desire for something, a desire for something more than is on this earth.

My gosh, we try desperately to fill that desire with things on earth. Awesome jobs, quality vacations, romance, cool SUVs, other people, popularity…none of them work. Me, I’ve been there. I have had great jobs, filled with big bucks and prestige. I went to an Ivy League school. I own the Mars and Venus series and have had my fill of relationships. I have performed and sang solos for audiences of thousands of people around the world. I have worked in professional radio and TV, living a “celebrity” life. All of that stuff was cool in itself but when I look back, it still did not fill that desire in my heart for something more.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Most people, if they really had learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sort of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.” i

We discover in this life that the thrills and highs have to become more thrilling and higher to have the same effect. And then the feeling that the grass is always greener on the other side, well, it usually ends up being the same grass. We constantly get disappointed in this life by the things of this world. As I have personally discovered there is only one thing that fills that void. It is a supernatural solution.

French Mathematician/Philosopher Blaise Pascal puts it best. “The infinite abyss (of the heart) can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is, by God himself.” ii

That God, Pascal (and I) recognized is the God who came personally to earth in the form of Jesus Christ to fill that void for us. He came to us! All we have to do is let Him fill that void. By filling the void with Him, we are putting Him and His desires first in our life. We look to Him for our answers, our hopes and our dreams. We no longer rely on our own strength to carry us through hard times. We rely on Him. We accept His forgiveness for our past, present and future sins. We don’t carry the burden of failures and mistakes. We love others and put others ahead of ourselves, just as He loved us.

All it takes is a decision.

Will you let Jesus Christ fill that void in your heart? You may still think I am crazy. Or may be you realize that there is something more to this life that can’t be easily explained or understood, but that you want for your life. Whatever it is, I challenge you to take that dive and find out. I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

For further reading:

Strobel, Lee. The Case for Christ. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000

Strobel, Lee. The Case for Faith. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000

Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. New York: Simon & Shuster, 1952 (link)

Colson, Chuck. How Now Shall We Live? Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishing, 1999

I firmly endorse buying these books at Yes, I own stock in Amazon and it has plummeted! Support them, please! 🙂


  1. Lewis, C.S., Mere Christianity. New  York: Simon & Schuster, 1952, page 120
  2. iPascal, Blaise. Pensees. London: Penguin Books, 1966 (translation)


NEW! Tentative Dates

September 6, 2001|

NEW! Tenative Dates:

I met with Dr. Shaha, the head and neck doctor at MSKCC who will be doing my biopsy. I am tenatively scheduled to have the biopsy on Wednesday morning, Sept. 12. My last day of work will be Friday, Sept 7th (upon which I am celebrating by seeing the Backstreet Boys in concert that night!). I will be passing through Philly, Lancaster, and Pittsburgh the weekend of the 14th.

In the meanwhile, address all correspondences to (no more I will also be changing my cell phone number in October.

New address:

Art Canning

424 Glacierview Dr.

Youngstown, OH 44509