There’s some unwritten code of ethics concerning the proper way to speak
about cancer, and it especially pertains to the guy who either has or had it.
Apparently I’m not allowed to talk about this really big part of the last six years of my life with
people I don’t know all that well, unless they’ve brought it up, and it’s being
talked about in some kind of self pitying and/or pithy fashion. I’m not suppose
to tell someone in passing about how many fucking copies of Lance Armstrong’s fucking
book I was sent, because it apparently makes them uncomfortable.
Since this fact of my life is going to come up in my blog
sooner or later I’ve decided to make it sooner, and because I’m usually accused of
either fishing for sympathy or shocks, I’m going to focus only on all the good
things that came out of my bout with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Usually I like to talk about the stuff that
sucked at the time, but is hilarious now, like when I suffered a bought of diarrhea
and constipation at the same time, but this time I’ll focus on the shimmering silver
First up is my 42 inch, hi-def LCD television. Way back when I first
found a lump on my neck I called my mother, like any frightened adult with the
mind of a six year old would. To stop my bitching mom bet me that the lump wasn’t
cancer, and told me I was overreacting. Then she offered up ‘that giant TV you’ve been talking about’ as her side of
the bet. Imagine the phone call.
“Mom…(sniff, choke)…it’s cancer. (Sob) I was right all along (weep, snuffle)…Now…about that TV…I’ve looked into our options…”
In the end I still ended up paying for half of it, but without the bet
I wouldn’t have been able to afford any of it. Without cancer I wouldn’t have
ever been able to afford the set, and without the set I wouldn’t have the
qualifications to write for DVDActive.com, and without the experience I’m
pretty sure Nick wouldn’t have accepted my offer to write this blog.
“But wait”, you say, knowing more about me personally then
possible, “You make enough money these days to have afforded the set yourself, with a bit
of saving.” This is true, on my current salary I probably could’ve eventually
paid for the set, but you obviously don’t know the story behind my current job.
I was working in a copy room for four years when there was finally an opening
in the graphics department. I had to interview with two different managers.
The first manager I interviewed with, the one that was going
to suggest me to the second, was a cancer survivor herself. I knew this, but
wasn’t going to bring any of it up. When she asked me about my attendance
record with the company I had to explain all those Fridays I’d gone missing
from work. I said I had a medical problem that was better now. She looked me in
the face and plainly asked “What kind of cancer did you have?” I didn’t start
it, she did, and I’m reasonably sure that it was this discussion that it was
decided I’d be hired.
Then there are these awesome scars. It turns out I have some kind of allergy to the sutures used in modern medicine that are meant to be absorbed by the human body, so even though my two surgeries were very minor, out-patient procedures, I have two really gnarly scars. On my neck is my biopsy scare, which looks like it was inflicted by a dull shiv in a knife fight. On my chest is my Port-O-Cath scar, which looks a whole hell of a lot like a bullet wound. I like to tell people that inquire about the scars that I came across a biker gang that called my girlfriend a slut, and that I had to defend her honor. This worked especially well when I still had the Port-O-Cath under my skin, which I’d tell them was the bullet.
When you’re first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s the doctors are
usually pretty calm about the whole thing, because the disease was mostly cured
several years ago (it’s kind of the stubbed toe of the cancer world, some folks
in the shot room wouldn’t even talk to me because I wasn’t dying), and they get
right to telling you about what to do to survive the chemo process. One of the
big things they’ll impress upon you is that you’ll have to eat, a lot. They’ll
tell you it doesn’t matter what you eat, as long as you’re eating it.
“Ordering a sandwich? Ask for extra mayo. Craving a glass of
milk? How’s about a milkshake instead?”
“Are you serious Doc? This is the best thing that’s ever
happened to me…oop, hold on a sec, gotta throw up.”
“We’ll have none of that, son, here are some fantastic
drugs. This little chalky white one is basically diazepam, and that gumball
shaped one is full of THC.”
Some folks call cancer survivors
‘heroic’ or ‘brave’. I was
not. At no point during my treatment did I save a kitten from a tree or perform life saving CPR on a drowned baby. Mostly I sat slouched on the couch watching late night cable television (which my
parents paid for) while doing my best not to puke. So from here on out, to everyone that reads this blog, and everyone that knows me personally,
I’m not fishing for sympathy or shock when I bring up the cancer thing,
it just happens that I think it’s the only interesting thing about me.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot the best (and sappiest) thing to come out of the
whole cancer fiasco. My girlfriend and I broke up right before my treatment was
over (don’t judge her, I was either asleep or cranky the whole time, and she
stayed in the apartment until I was finished). After treatment I met someone
new, and we’ve been together ever since.