At rounds yesterday morning, the crew decided that it was time for me to get out of there.  They planned to irrigate and were quite sure that it would produce something.  I started to pack up my bags and called my mom to come down to the hospital and help me carry out the bags.

It didn’t work.  I still haven’t actually produced anything, for those of you who are curious.  The surgeon had a look at me, though, and felt that pending a good abdominal x-ray showing things headed in the right direction, I could go home.  That was at 9:30 AM.  Finally at 3:00 in the afternoon a “transporter” came to take me down to x-ray on a stretcher.  Hospital policy.  Obviously I don’t need to remind any of you that I’ve spent the last 4 or 5 days walking maniacally (over 14 miles by my estimation).  I could have walked down there at 10!!  Nope.  Not how we do things around here.

I was back on the stretcher ready to go back upstairs after the x-ray when the surgeon and my oncologist showed up.  They took a look at the films and cleared me on the spot.

“Now Ezra.”


“we have gotten back the initial results from the pathology, and 6 out of 20 lymph nodes are involved.”

“you mean, “involved” with cancer?”


“so chemo is certain?”


“6 months of it?”

“yes..   starting in about a month”

“and the prognosis?”

“we can’t say.  You have stage 3 cancer. Maybe we got everything. The tumor is out and so are those lymph nodes”

“but it may be in my liver and lungs?”

“yes..  Or anywhere.  That’s why we have to do the chemo.”

“If the chemo didn’t work last time, what makes us feel it will do anything this time?”

“we don’t know.”


“And, Ezra.”


“no heavy lifting for the next three months.”

“what’s heavy?”

“nothing heavier than a laptop”

“My wife is heavier than a laptop.”   (“That’s what I’M talkin’ about,” said the transporter..  I’d forgotten he was there.  He was clearly feeling pretty disturbed by the news.)

At that point my 70 year old surgeon said something about allowing Hillary to be on top for a while.  wow.

I am incredibly happy to be home.  It’s hard to put into words.  Last night my parents and Thomas and Evans and Beth came by for dinner.  I made bolognese.    Same thing I made two weeks ago after getting out of the hospital after the exploratory surgery.  Hmm.  A tradition!  I will post directions!

It was a nice evening.  It was a restless night.  Great to be back in my own bed, but sore and anxious.  Today I am having to think about what the next 7 or 8 months will look like.  Obviously I will not be able to work in the shop for a while.  Nothing heavier than a laptop rules out enough of the activity in the shop, that it’s probably wisest if I just don’t go out there.  Two winters ago when I was going through chemo (on the same drugs that I will be doing again) the neuropathy in my hands made it impossible to work all but two or three days out of every two weeks.  It may have seemed pretty tough of me to be “working” right through treatment, but the truth is that I wasn’t working.  Not really.  I spent most of my time feeling anxious about how much I was NOT working.  I think that this time around it may make quite a lot more sense just to find a different job.  Find some other projects to work on.  Ones that don’t involve feeling in the fingers.  Focusing on photography for a while…  I don’t know what, really.

It’s pretty wild coming to terms with just how quickly I’ve gone from being “cancer free” to having stage three cancer.  I can’t articulate it well.  I’m feeling pretty beat up.  Pretty calm at the same time.  I guess I’ve had the last year and a half or so to prepare for this possibility/(eventuality?).

I will go to the surgeon’s office tomorrow for a follow up visit and will probably get more information on the pathology, maybe a clearer sense of what it means.  Probably not!  Ha!  If I do, I’ll report it here.

0 Replies to “Finally”

  1. Been reading everyday for over a year and commented once before to tell you how moved I am by your pictures and blog….please know that you’ve already taken on a “new” job…you inspire and inform each and every one of us who have been touched by your story…hundreds…maybe thousands(?). Might want to think about a book, my friend…Put that laptop on your lap and start inspiring millions.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you….

  2. So glad you are home and back in the land of the loving! Clench the teeth hard Ezzie and go for that shit….I am living proof that stage 3 can be beat.

  3. E,

    This is both great and sad news. I am glad you are home and the surgeons have cleared you for some activity beyond your laptop. I hope Hill is holding up well. This has to be rough on her.

    I wish you both the best.


  4. No words seem to work here, Ez. Except for maybe keep going…

    I wish all of us out here that wait for news from you and and have so much love and admiration for you and your family could each take a little piece off this and kick it’s ass for you. There are so many of us… it wouldn’t stand a chance. Until I figure out how that works exactly… I’ll just keeping sending all the love and good thoughts I’ve got your way. Wishing every minute that I could do more.

  5. im so very relieved you are home. i imagine for you and your family its overwhelming and hard to put into words to be out of there and in your own space. the other news is hard to read. hard to comprehend. and i’m sad to hear that you wont be able to get in the shop for a while, i know you enjoy your work so much. it shows. but u know what? YES ON PHOTOGRAPHY! would love to see more of that. its beautiful how you see things. ezra. hillary. putney. as always you have my heart.

  6. You have the breadth and depth of knowledge to write about just about anything you want. Bike building, cooking, travel, overcoming cancer; you name it, you could write it. I’d give all three of you big hugs if I were there right now. Hang tough, brother.

  7. I’ve kept up with your progress off and on. My brother has been battling for over two years now constantly. Your documentation of your experience and progress is invaluable for others. When I told you to spend your time while in the hospital cheering other patients it was also intended as a self help activity. Now that you have been benched for some time please direct some of your energy towards others with similar situations. I think you will find it most rewarding. Your blogging and flicker presence is a definite benefit. When I find a drug that works for my heart condition I tell everybody I can in the hopes that it can help someone else..

  8. welcome home, drink up. i have to say that your grip on reality is incredibly tenacious. there’s much to admire in ezra caldwell. best to hill and put.

  9. So glad you are home Ezra. You look thinner from your time in the hospital. Fatten yourself back up while you have the chance. And yes, create and share anyway you can. You already have a supportive community who love your photography and writing and would happily purchase them. Keep up with your bike design if you can in any small way. It seems like a comforting outlet for you. Maybe someone could come assist you in the shop a day or two a week. Anyway, you have healing to do now. Much love to you.

  10. I wonder if you’d want to publish some of your photos in gorgeous book form. I know some people who would want to buy one (me!).

    Putney Sue, nudes, bikes, Nova Scotia, self-portraits. You’ve already got so much beautiful work on Flickr alone.

  11. Ezra,
    In your newly available time – maybe it’s time for your to write your bicycle porn coffee-table book.

    you’ve got beautiful bike porn and you have the time to write. Seems like a good trip to take and will give you a job you can focus on all the time.

    And at the end you can either find a publisher or look at self-publishing via lulu or something like that.

    I know I would buy a coffee-table-sized book of your bike porn.

    Anyone else?

  12. So glad to read that you’re home!

    I agree with the suggestions that you work on a book — photos, text, or one of each. You have so much to share.

    Lots of thoughts for you and Hill; you’re both so brave.

  13. Glad you’re home and back in the thick of things and cooking again! There’s nothing like being able to create and share to help, well, everything. As for the new job, I don’t think you’ve ever had a new job. Never will. Your job is clearly to create and share beauty and always will be. Yup, fewer bikes for a bit; but more pictures, writing, and who knows what will take its place. You’ve got an amazing gift for connecting people to one another and the world in a truly beautiful way and that gift will not leave you no matter what. And if you can’t solder bikes, think of the creme brule you can make with your brazing torch.

    As Stuart says, stage 3 can be beat – my kid brother is doing great years later and my uncle as well (8 years on and from colon cancer, too). I’m sure the treatment will be a mother, but you already know you can survive that! Not sure if you’ve tried them, but the Lance Armstrong foundation is a fantastic resource for help – I’d definitely give them a call. I know the fat cyclist ( through friends and know that they were a great resource for he and his family.

    +1 on the book. Well, actually, +8 or so – I’ll give ’em as gifts. Curated photos that you’ve already got would be awesome. Even better would be a way of sharing your story. The voice and honesty in both your pictures and words would give a wonderful boot to the millions of others going through the same thing. Hard to do that in a book, but it’s the brave new world. Maybe “there’s an app for that”? I’m a software guy and would be happy to help with that…

  14. oh ezra. first of all, welcome home! second, … seriously speechless. and sad. my heart aches for you and your family. but if you are going the photography/writing route, i would highly recommend it. also, i’m sure you have some great stories to tell about places you’ve been/people you know/things you’ve made.

  15. Longtime “lurker” moved by your writing and story. Your concern about using the same drug/s as last time is pbly. spot-on. Can’t imagine they would prescribe the same regimen again. In any case, I don’t know if or what health care insurance you have. If it’s good – get a second opinion on treatment options. And then get a third one. See if there’s a possibility that you could get in on a clinical trial with some new chemoshit . In the meantime I am wishing you a long and prosperous life. L/
    Oh, and I would really like to know the technical details of how you produce these remarkable photos.

  16. Glad you are home with Putt and Hill – and cooking! Someday I’ll come over and let you cook for me.. Your beautiful meals always look delicious.

    Ez, I’m so sorry to hear about the stupid cancer. I hate it. I hate that you have to go through this all again.. I feel like there should be a cap on these things. But, I know you are strong, body and mind, and can do this again.

    I’ll give an Amen to the book idea.. you have a way of writing (and picturing). Think seriously about that.. I’d buy you!

    You look very handsome in this picture, nice kind eyes… Thinking of you and Hill .. and Putt!


  17. Just wanted to drop a line. Following since 2007. Please keep strong on your photography and writing. Take people up on their request for a book (mine included). Hope to meet you in person at somepoint, kind of a legend on this end.

  18. Gawd, Ezra, cancer sucks. I’m sorry you have to go through chemo again. Truly.

    But I am really excited that you got to go home finally! And to cook real food and brew real coffee. Mmm.

    Isn’t life wierd? In the same conversation as getting the news of stage 3 cancer and 6 months of chemo, some old-fashioned doctor makes a crack about “allowing” your wife to be on top for while. You just gotta laugh at crap like that!

  19. Hi Ezra,

    My heart is heavy with this news. You are so strong and kind. You will beat this!

    You and yours are in my family’s prayers every day.

    With Love,
    j, r, s & z

  20. It must be nice to be home. Your photographs are already so great so that seems like a good way to occupy some of your time. And you do the whole cooking thing and take beautiful photos of that. There’s something else out there waiting for you to discover. Best wishes.

  21. I have a feeling of sadness when reading this news, but I am convinced of your strength and energy that only you have. You are in my thoughts, I’m glad to know you’re back home. Many hugs, we are all together with you.

  22. As I’m sure most people have said, you should gather up all these blog posts and simply publish them in book form. With loads of photographs, naturally.

    Aside from all that, I am truly sorry to hear about all this. Your last recovery made me sigh with contentment, thinking that the world isn’t all bad. 🙁

  23. Ez

    This was hard to read. I want so badly for you to not have to endure the chemo again, but at the same time I know that you can do this; I have no doubts that you are capable of pressing through. Keep eating and cooking well, taking photos, and absorbing all the warmth and love in your life as much as you can, I feel like this will help your strength.

    Thinking of you always these days.

  24. Ezra, from Sydney, Australia I send you my best wishes and support for your recovery. There are many more that read your words but do not post. You are a good guy with a lot of talent and a clear and kind heart. You wouldn’t have that girl of yours if this wasn’t true.
    All the best. Keep teaching Cancer to cry.

  25. People have expressed it much better than me in previous comments.
    It is so sad to read your story. But your energy and optimism are just amazing.
    Erza, you are an inspiration. I have a lot of admiration for you.
    You have a gift to speak to world with your photos and writing… I’m always touched.

    Lots of thoughts for you, Hill and the rest of your family.

  26. I have tried to type this comment 3 different times… and I can’t come up with anything better than I am sorry that you have to go through this, and I have been thinking of you and Hill.

  27. Ezra, We have never met or spoken but what you have done with bicycles has spoken to me, volumes. When I first discovered you I was a doctor in a hospital in southern California. I was looking for a way out and you at least partially inspired me to build…I just tuned in to find out about your recent ordeal. I cant offer a lot in terms of advise but attitude is half of the battle as I am sure you are aware. Find that something to do that wont frustrate you and bring to it the same talent and inspiration you brought to bicycles. We are pulling for you here on the west coast (you are pretty famous in the bike community!) take care…

  28. Shared a meal with my two young sons tonight. Simple but powerful. Indian summer has prolonged the days of pedaling in shorts and tees and playing in the yard. Life is challenge, but it is all part of the ebb and flow. Your story and the images you share are inspiring. Lightness and dark. Thanks for sharing. Thinking of you and your family and sending you positive, loving thoughts. Wondering how many others have typed messages only to delete them because the thoughts seem inadequate. Its how I feel, but I want to share that I am thinking about you and your struggles from far away.

  29. Boy that’s some tough news. Seems too quick to just say “keep fighting, you can do it, onward and upward.” It’s a hard fight, this one for you, others that will be the things that find each of us at points in our lives. Don’t feel like you have to be up, strong, courageous all the time, though you are those things with astounding consistency. Feel your friends and family around you, go low if you have to, gather your strength about you for the next act. But then: GO! We’re all pulling for you.

  30. As John C said, I find myself typing messages and deleting them on account of inadequacy. I’m just going to hit ‘submit’ this time, no matter what. Your strength is an inspiration, and your story is touching lives through this blog of yours. I find myself framing my own struggles through your lens, finding my own strength through yours. Please keep it up. Keep doing what you can to beat this. Do it for everyone on this blog who would give anything to see you healthy. But mostly, do it for yourself, your wife, and that beautiful dog of yours. My best to you, Ezra.

  31. Well congratulations on all the awesome stuff. Your home with your beautiful wife, dog and family. Your cooking your own food. You can lift a laptop!

    On the business front, if you can find someone to make them, I’d buy some fenders.

    Keep it up.

  32. I’ glad that you’re home again, with hill, putney, in your own bed, with your own food.
    and as many others did say here too: you’re such a creative person. do a book about putney, bikes, hill, whatever – your flickr-stream is a treasure. or you use your blog entries for a book. you’re such a good writer! let the creativity flow!
    best wishes from accross the ocean,

  33. Awe Fuck Ezra, bringin tears to my eyes… stage 3, fuck.

    God damnit

    i’m sure you’ve had a dozen or more people to tell you to get this book but i’m going to tell you too, because there is a ton of good shit in it and the science/medicine behind it is super strong (and it is compatible with chemo and the rest)
    or hell submit your recipes and get a free book

    but seriously – check it out (if you haven’t already) and yes – i know – just another well meaning person making a suggestion. But at least check out the web page when find yourself looking for something new to read…

    fuck cancer

  34. Ezra,
    I am happy to know that you are at home toguether with your familly. That you can play with your cameras and cook some nice food.
    You are an ispiration, keep on sharing your life with this nice texts and pictures, is a gift for us. It makes this world much more nicer.
    My best to you.

  35. That’s a pretty hard row to hoe, but ya got the strength, knowledge and endurance. Plus ya go ya people ready to lend a hand when needed. Glade to hear you were able to cook a meal for your Fam. There is something special about the experience and ability to be able to feed your Family.
    One day at a time, that’s the line.
    A good nights rest in your bed, Hill’s body heat to know you are HOME…

  36. Ezra — I know probably tons of advice coming at from all sides, but please check this out—

    I have David Spahr’s book, and he really knows his stuff.

    So glad you are home, very distressed about the news, but as everyone sez, you are an inspiration, and bring out so much goodness in everything and person around you and afar. Keep that up sweetheart.

  37. You are being sorely tested, but your attitude continues to amaze me. I think they call it grace. I hope you can pour yourself into your home, love, and creative pursuits and that there are more good days than bad.
    It was one of your amazing photos that drew me to you in the first place…please make many more.
    And one last thing, pay no attention to things like stage and statistics. Those are all based on averages, and you, my friend, are far from average.

  38. I hope you focus on photography – it’s what brought so many of us here, me included.

    And write it aaaaaaallll down. Every bit. Good and bad.
    And eat whatever the hell you feel like eating.
    And take your meds and make sure if you go into the hospital for anything you take a list of those meds with you for Hillary to double-check with what the hospital has on file.
    And take long drives in the country or at the sea.
    And ask for support when you need it.

    We’re all pulling for you.

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