Okay, things have been happening just so fast and furiously just recently that many people have asked me to just take a deep breath and help them play catch-up. Here goes...
Basically all you need to know is that I am back from having "lost" two months of my life.
In those two months I somehow managed to 1. discover that for some reason or other I was not myself, 2. ascribe the blame (wrongly) to a recurrence of the shingles that I had contracted 27 years ago, 3. achieve a diagnosis (correctly) of a massively distended gall-bladder, and 4. pursue that line of inquiry to its logical end...which was alas that the entrance to not just my gall-bladder but three other internal organs - a sort of 4-way traffic junction if you will - was being obstructed by a two-centimeter tumor lodged at the head of my pancreas.
Stranger still, in the same two months I also managed to 5. have the tumor resected (sliced out) successfully, 6. have my entire digestive system rearranged in a so-called "Whipple procedure" (feel free to Wikipedia it, but make sure you are sitting down first), 7. recover from the radical surgery and 8. begin the first cycle of a nine-cycle, six-month course of "preventative" chemotherapy aimed at minimizing the possibility of any return of pancreatic or any other kind of cancer to anywhere in my body.|
It wasn't quite the 2011 that I had scheduled back in November and December of 2010.
To claim that my work didn't get majorly disrupted would be ludicrous, delusional. On the other hand, Cloud Expo New York, the 8th International Cloud Computing Conference & Expo - thanks to the amazing team effort that has characterized this event since its inception seven successful shows ago - is trending to be the biggest Cloud event ever. We have over one hundred exhibitors from every level of the cloud computing ecosystem and a non-stop, 4-day technical program, with expert speakers from every top Cloud player, including Abiquo, Amazon, AppZero, AT&T, CA Technologies, Cloud.com, Dell, Dell Boomi, Eucalyptus Systems, Fusion-io, Google, HP, IBM, Layered Technologies, Layer7, LogLogic, McAfee, Microsoft, OpSource, Oracle, OutSystems, OxygenCloud, PayPal, PerspecSys, Quest Software, Rackspace, RightScale, Spoon, Stoneware, Terremark, Virtela, VMware, Xiotech and Zetta.
Altogether, not too shabby. But then, this is the tech conference world's top team. Cloud Expo New York may be only the eighth successive Cloud Expo, but it is actually my fiftieth consecutive event as Conference Chair...so we are building on a fairly decent track record of eleven busy years of producing conferences for the Internet technology community.
But before you worry that maybe, among my newfound plans, there might lurk some wheeze to write the book Pancreatic Cancer is Good for You, let me assure you that on the contrary never in all my life have I felt so humble and privileged and plain dumb lucky.
I am fully aware that the odds I have beaten - or, rather that I have been helped to beat by a brilliant piece of highly invasive surgery carried out both fast and well - were very very long. Lots of different stars had to line up for me to be declared, essentially, cancer-free just seven weeks after being diagnosed with what turned out to be a malignant tumor straight out of Pancreatic Cancer 101 - as in, not only able to kill, but usually successful in killing, if not within a year or two, then almost always within five.
"The silent killer" is what they call pancreatic cancer. Its survival rate is, in the words of one of the earlier websites that (alas!) I chanced upon very early while trying to get a sense of what I was up against, "dismal." And even the less dramatic and more scholarly sites that I found a little later were still very forthright: only 20% of pancreatic cancers are even operable...and of the 20% that are operated on, only a certain percentage seem to end up cured. Most still seem to end up dead. (The mystery of that one still defies me, but perhaps other patients are typically older, or less fit, than I was when diagnosed, so that their tumors, although removed, left traces of cancer behind...)
But then again, what actual use are statistics? What matters, when you are up against a major medical challenge, is you...not some sample of other patients. What matters is to feel strong, to feel loved, and to feel optimistic - and I was blessed with all three. So actually it isn't really surprising at all that I beat the odds. With all that strength (partly from fitness, mostly from stubbornness!), all that love (from my family, my friends, and colleagues who have simply blown me away with their compassion and concern and positive karma, and not least all that optimism (supplied to me at birth in almost infinite quantities)...how could I ever have failed?
I promise you that this is last time that any of you will have to endure hearing about one man's brush with "PanCan" as this scary killer is called. From here on all have to say about it will be said through actions rather than words, specifically my participation in the 2011 San Francisco Marathon on July 31, when I hope you will consider helping raise $10,000 for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (>www.PanCan.org) which is trying to double the survival rate for pancreatic cancer by 2020. The money will go directly to much needed R&D, much neded because for whatever reason very little real progress has been made in fighting this particular cancer in the recent past.
Either way, whether you decide to allocate a few dollars to fighting PanCan or not, know that I will be there on the podium as ever at Cloud Expo New York, and that you will truly not be able to discern any difference: I will still be my same old self...for better or for worse! So look out for me as conference emcee, Power Panel moderator, SYS-CON.tv host, and as a general all-purpose go-to guy if you have a bone to pick with Cloud Expo or (even better) a constructive suggestion as to how we can go on making the event more and more valuable to those who participate, whether as delegates, speakers, exhibitors, sponsors, or attending press & analysts. I should be pretty easy to find! :)
So.....see you in New York City at the Jacob Javits, 6 - 9 June. It is going to be simply Cloudtastic!