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Preface: How we got here

By Ken Raymond Modified: February 23, 2009 at 8:26 am •  Published: December 2, 2008

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Jim Chastain has many things: a loving wife, a daughter who will soon graduate from high school, a son who is a gifted musician, a great job at the Capitol, a large home in Norman, a growing literary reputation and a large circle of friends.

What he doesn't have is time.

"The doctors have told me that I have months left, not years," said Chastain, 45. "That's not enough time."

In 2001, Chastain was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in his right arm. Multiple surgeries failed to stop the cancer from returning, and his right arm was amputated at the shoulder.

A few years passed, and he thought his life was getting back on track. It wasn't. Last year, Chastain learned he had colon cancer, which had metastasized and moved into his liver. Doctors also found spots of cancer in his lungs.

Although he continues to undergo chemotherapy and is considering experimental and alternative medical procedures, he knows the odds are against him. He may not survive 2009.

Chastain, a lawyer for an appellate court judge, has published two poetry books and a humorous account of his early struggle with cancer, titled "I Survived Cancer But Never Won the Tour de France."

"You get cancer, but life goes on," he told The Oklahoman earlier this year. "You still have to work, pay bills, deal with kids in high school and clean up dog (droppings) in the back yard. Whether there's some grand purpose or not, I feel like I've been placed in a position with my creativity, whether it's a curse or a blessing, to tell people life is real." has disabled the comments for this article.


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