There have been many days on my cancer journey which sucked. Days I thought I might not be able to go on suffering and dragging my support with me. I looked back at the end of each of those rough days and tried to find some light in the situation or some kindled thought from which to build the fire needed for a long night. Tonight I head of to work which I hoped I would do for so long and I am so happy to have returned to but tonight will be long and cold. My focus is off and the road seems very slippery. I am writing in hopes of clearing my mind again so I can help others who are struggling with health. Today Anchorage, Chickaloon, Seldovia, Homer, the nordic and backcountry ski world in general lost a man who was clearly head and shoulders above us all. Lars Spurkland passed away after a sudden complication from a likely acute myelogenous leukemia.

I tried through my journey to shield myself, selfishly, from others who carried the Leukemia diagnosis for many reasons. Partly in my mind because the hope that I would move on and the survivor guilt would be to much to handle. Yet, this disease is so scary and horrible that I could not escape it’s reach.  At times like these I will admit there is no reasoning and nothing good to say. If you don’t believe in god this is fodder to only make you realize a god would not take such a great guy leaving a wonderful supporting cast to cope. If you believe in god than Lars was needed elsewhere and it is a challenge which will make us stronger. Either way it doesn’t feel good. I can’t stop thinking about the emptiness and pain Rayanne and family are coping with.

I will admit I am glad he did not suffer and I am sure his spirit is watching over all those who grieve for him. As a tall dude his view isn’t much different now but I was always amazed at how such an intimidatingly tall guy could be so down to earth. He was what so many people only wished they could be. Calm, outgoing, well spoken, and all around graceful. He accomplished the tasks people strive to do, to coach, to lead, to be a great friend to so many. I remember one time years ago when I had returned to Alaska for some medical school rotations and I had a day off before the rotation started. I was called up by Adinda to go for a backcountry ski. I was exhausted, tired, and worried about the next progression in my education. Lars was there that day and I had not seen him in a while. As we skined up Tincan we talked about all the youthful days of national nordic ski races and he essentially dragged me up to the top. We planned to drop off the south side down into center ridge which is not the craziest slope but it is a legit Alaskan run. For me having not skied any backcountry in two years and having just hopped on a pair of skis for the first time in 4 months I was a bit timid. I remember standing at the top with him and he noticed I was shaking a bit. He laughed at me and said “dude it’ll be fun and you won’t ever want to leave again.” I don’t know if he as a little sketched out also but he had a look of concern as well but plunged in, dropped his knee into a beautiful tele turn and ripped off down the mountain. I watched him carve down and heard the obligatory hollaring when the snow is sweet and the day is off to a good start. I relaxed and followed him down. He was right, I never want to leave.

I am sure when he is done looking over and worrying for all those he loved here on earth he will head to mythical mountains with powder deep enough to make a 7 footer (I think he was only 6′ 7″ but he seemed that big at times) feel like it is deep. I am sure he will be waiting there for us all to show us the way as he has done for so many here in this material world. I am sorry we didn’t get more time with him and it is a sad reminder to us all to love each other and be kind. All the Dudley’s and Maury’s ache for the Spurkland family and we are simply here for you.

Head Up, Heart Strong.


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