Feeling Fit — September 26, 2015

Yoko and I made a trip to Maine last week to get out of the Florida heat. We’d been planning this trip for a year. Unfortunately, we were too early in the fall season to see the changing leaves, but it was still nice to get away for a long weekend. We “won” this stay in a lakeside cabin in Maine at The Peace River Rotary’s Charity Games’ last September. We’d never been to Maine, so we took the opportunity to be the highest bidder!

We flew directly from St. Pete to Bangor and drove a few hours from there to Moosehead Lake. Along the way we could not help but notice that nearly every home proudly displayed the American flag, even though there was no national holiday to celebrate. The people who live in Maine are not only Patriot fans, but proud American patriots, which was heartwarming to see.

There were many white steeple churches along the way. Every once in a while we passed a roadside sign warning us to be respectful of “God’s Country”. The route took us past iconic covered bridges, rolls of hay in fallow fields, and scenes of natural beauty in every direction.

When we got to our destination we took a seaplane tour of the Moosehead Lake region. Our pilot guide told us that the word “moose” is an Indian word for God. The lake is named for the surrounding mountains, which form the silhouette of a moose head. We were surely in God’s country. And although I did not see a single moose on our visit, He was everywhere.

The lakeside cabin where we stayed had no electricity and was five miles down a dirt road, about 30 miles from the nearest town. On a moonless night it was so dark that you could not see your hand in front of your face. But what a spectacular view of the stars in heaven! In the cool morning air, just before dawn, I awoke to the sound of loons, softly cooing. In just a single night I felt at peace and thanked God to still be alive.

From Moosehead Lake we went to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Maine’s shoreline is majestic and the forest is spectacular. We drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain and took in a magnificent vista from every direction. Maine truly is God’s Country. In no church did I ever feel closer to our creator.

So what does a weekend trip to God’s Country have to do with good health and surviving a cancer diagnosis? The first thing is that such a trip is a reminder of why we live, which is to honor God our creator. It’s also a reminder of the importance of getting fresh air and exercise. I had to lug a canoe down to the lake and then lug in back to storage. Getting it down to the lake was fairly easy; getting it back to storage was something of a struggle. As I have damaged lung capacity, I became winded dragging the heavy boat uphill.

Thankfully, I didn’t pass out because had just taken a lesson on how to catch my breath from Denise, a respiratory therapist at Port Charlotte Rehabilitation Center. Denise was our speaker at the last Lung Cancer Support Group meeting last week. (If you would like to attend our support group, we meet every second Tuesday of the month from 2 PM at Bayfront Punta Gorda Medical Building 4th Floor; or every third Wednesday from 2 PM at Sarasota Memorial on Toledo Blade.)

Being in God’s Country gave me some time to reflect about what comes next for me and my life. I turn 60 in October. I plan to retire in five short years. Then what?

My wife asked me what I want for my birthday and the answer is that there is nothing in this world that I need more than her love and the love of my family and friends. I’m just grateful God has allowed me to reach another birthday milestone.

At this stage of my life, what I want is to help others in their journey to live a long and happy life. I think that is God’s calling for me. If you would like to help me on my mission to save and extend lives, you can start by helping me with the Lung Cancer 5K Run/Walk. Create an online team to raise funds, volunteer to help, or register to run or walk on November 7th.

Registration is now open at www.lungcancerresearchcouncil.org


Thomas E Cappiello is an eight year lung-cancer survivor and founder and president of The Lung Cancer Research Council, Inc., a non-profit charity dedicated to promoting lung cancer awareness, screening and early detection. Write to him at tcappiello@np.zypha.com or visit www.lungcancerresearchcouncil.org