I’m the guy next door
It’s Sunday, 14 July, 2019. So why am I writing this blog? Aren’t there enough cancer blogs out there already? What could I possibly have to add that hasn’t been said? Let’s face it, I’m not that interesting. I admit it. You won’t see entries in this blog about my Sunday soccer league, my cruise to Alaska, or my preparations to climb Mount Kukaluka. You won’t read that I’m learning to speak an African click language or that I’m writing the great American novel. I’m not going to share recipes for cancer fighting meals or tips on how to cope with fatigue and constipation. Sorry. That’s just not me.
What you will find here are my honest thoughts and feelings. I’ll share my ups and downs. You’ll see what it’s like to be a regular guy who suddenly has his life turned inside out by a nasty cancer that wants to, and just might kill him. You’ll read how a not-uncommon guy is coping from day to day and week to week with emotional and physical challenges that can be overwhelming.
And perhaps therein lies my unique voice. I’m the guy next door, the guy in the cubicle next to you at work, who gets cancer. My perspective is that of any average office manager, mail carrier, cashier, father, veteran. I’m the poor sap who usually has no idea what the hell is going on. I promise I won’t intimidate you or make you feel inadequate. Not like I could. I’m not privy to any deep philosophical secrets or spiritual insight. Nietzsche said, “God is dead.” There. That’s all I’ve got. And I think I read that on a t-shirt. Also, I’m definitely not condescending (that means talking down to you). I have begun to eat much healthier since learning I have cancer, as I know that food is our first line of defense. But I’m no expert on diet and exercise.
Going to tell it my way
I promise I won’t hold back but I’m going to tell it my way. I’ll talk about my anxiety, anger, frustration, trepidation… But I have to interject a little humor. I guess that’s my nature. I can be sarcastic and impertinent. But that’s a kind of self-protection. I can admit I’m depressed as long as I can crack a joke about it. Sadly, I’m finding this makes people a little uncomfortable. For example, I’ve got this thing I do. If somebody is complaining about their bad day, I’ll say, “Oh, sorry you’re having a bad day. I have cancer!” Or, “Sorry you’re getting a little cold. I have cancer.” It’s hilarious to see the looks on their faces. Unsure if they’re allowed to laugh. By the way, you are. Importantly, this blog is cathartic for me. By sharing my feelings in an uplifting manner, I lift myself up too. This keeps me from going to a dark, self-pitying place and getting lost there. And trust me, that would be easy.
So with that, let me tell you that this shit sucks! And it’s only just starting. I’ve had two weeks of chemo and a week off to rest. I will go back tomorrow morning to begin another two week cycle. And with it inevitably will come the fatigue, nausea and constipation that remind me I’m fighting what’s probably the most important battle of my life. Literally a battle for my life.
Months from now, after the chemo process has done its work, I’ll undergo a bone marrow transplant, also called a stem cell transplant. I’ve talked about this is previous entries. And it’s not actually a transplant at all. They’ll remove, filter and re-use my own blood cells. I’ve been reading about it. Shit. They’re going to pump me so full of chemo drugs that the process will actually “reset” my immune system. No, I mean literally it will be like I’ve never had an immunization or a sickness in my life. No colds, no flu. No childhood diseases. Like a new born. Oh, and it may leave me sterile. That’s fine. My children are grown. I’m out of that business. But I am going to miss the extra cash I’ve been making from selling my stuff to the local sperm bank. Oh! Do you remember reading a few years back about that doctor who was using his own sperm to impregnate women who thought they were getting it from a sperm bank? He did this for years and fathered dozens of kids, all in the same community. Do you wonder like I do, what if some of them are dating each other?
Anyway, it will take months for my immune system to bounce back. It’s a dangerous period. Pretty much any virus can come along and attack me during that time. And pneumonia could kill me, as it does many myelomans. I won’t lie, that shit scares the living fuck out of me. Another crazy possibility is that it can actually change your blood type. What?! See, something that can do that has got to really mess you up.
Playing head games
I don’t know. I’m playing head games with myself over this. Like, what if I don’t have the transplant? How many more years is all of this going to buy me anyway? Nobody can say for sure. There’s no data on the this generation of drugs. They’re just too new. So is it really worth it? I’m not saying I won’t do it! I’m just saying, these thoughts go through my head. I’ve asked myself how long I’ll have left if I let the cancer take its course. How bad will it get? Will the treatment be worse than the cancer?
You know how you’ve been asked, hypothetically, if you could know when you’re going to die, would you want to? My answer is always, no. But now, I feel like I kind of do know. Or, at least I have a idea. I have a window. Maybe five years from now. Maybe six. I don’t know exactly. But I’m closer to knowing than I ever have been, or than I ever wanted to be. That fucks with my head too. Sometimes I ask myself if I’m supposed to accomplish something. Is there something I need to do before I go? Of course I’ll vacuum and take out the trash. I’ve already left my job and I’m taking the time to enjoy the little things in life. I’m spending more time with my family and friends. But I ask myself, what do you do when you hear the clock ticking? Tick tock, tick tock… I don’t know. Maybe I’ll go see more movies. Everybody likes to go to the movies, right?