When I was finishing up a phone call with my surgeon the other day, I said something that sounded strange to me immediately afterwards.
“See you Friday,” I said.
It seemed strange because I said it so naturally, as though we were making plans together. It was as if I was picking him up Friday so we could go fishing, or to go watch a ball game or a movie, or build a shed or something.
I decided that I’m getting to know my surgeon too well — he’s becoming too familiar to me.
He really isn’t though. I actually don’t know all that much about him, just that he seems like a nice guy who has a talent for cutting me open and taking bad things out of me, which is what we’ve got planned together for Friday.
We’re planning on killing some cancer together.
As some of you know, and many of you don’t, I’ve been fighting cancer for almost four years now. I had major surgery in 2016 and several months of recovery and chemotherapy, and after a fight for my life, I was clean for almost two years.
Some cancer popped up again about a year ago. I got some more chemo, then had surgery in August, then had more chemo through the end of last year.
Scans last week and earlier this week showed that, although we took care of the cancer we were trying to get rid of, there are some spots of cancer growing on my liver that we didn’t see before, because they were obstructed from view. We see it now.
We need to get that crap out of there right away. I will be getting a chunk of my liver removed, maybe some other procedures if necessary.
It’s me, my surgeon and his brilliant ensemble, all together again for another sequel. Get your tickets now, seats are limited.
I have to admit that for the first motion picture four years ago, I was pretty scared. This kind of thing was unknown to me, and it was pretty risky surgery. I managed to fight through it and keep breathing, with help from God, family, friends, and doctors and nurses.
Today I’m scared again, not because of the unknown, because I’m used to this. I’m scared of what I know. I’m scared that this will be the new normal for me, that this kind of thing will be something I have to regularly do, every year, every few months.
It will become like going on a fishing trip, or to a ball game or a movie, or building a shed.
I’m scared that this kind of thing will be all too familiar to me.
In some ways, however, my seemingly perpetual fight with cancer has been a blessing for me.
My wife, my daughters, sister, parents, family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances — and sometimes total strangers — have all been squarely in my corner and have given me the kind of moral and emotional support I never could have imagined.
The smartest thing I’ve done in this life is surround myself with good people. I’ve become closer to all of them since cancer.
I’ve reignited relationships with long lost friends, and tried to support some of them through their own battles with cancer, and battles with all the other things in this world that are conspiring to destroy us.
American author and poet Charles Bukowski is credited with once saying, “We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”
That’s what I’ve tried to do for the last four years. I’ve tried to make Death tremble at the thought of laying its hand on me.
But as Death trembles, the reality of survival is also a fear. I feel bad for my wife. No matter how successful the surgery and my recovery is, she will lose the husband she knows for a little while. There will be some sick, tired and crabby guy sitting in my chair, sleeping in my spot next to her for an unspecified amount of time.
My kids, my parents my friends — they’re fighting this with me — this is putting them through hell. Sometimes I feel like I’ve let them down by not beating this once and for all.
Hopefully, this surgery is only going to put me out of commission for a couple weeks. You probably won’t be seeing my byline here for that while. Good vibes, warm thoughts, and sincere prayers are always appreciated.
Also appreciated — take care of yourselves. Get checked, get scanned, take preventative measures. Catch it early — it is so much easier to take care of it when you do.
Also, donate to cancer charities, sponsor a child who’s fighting cancer, help others.
Support local families with members fighting cancer. I don’t mean just with your money — although money is good if you have some to spare — sometimes just a kind word or a note can go a long way, and helps more than you know.
Let’s all kill some cancer together, or at least ease the pain it causes us all.
And please remember this — something that I once said, a couple years ago, as I was riding in the car and looking at a beautiful winter morning sundog in the eastern sky.
The world is full of wonder. Sometimes you need to inhale it, hold it in a while, just listen to how it makes you feel.
Reflect and keep going ...