I'm now into my 7 year Cancerversary and life should have returned to "normal" a long time ago. As a cancer patient you fight hard to survive as you watch some on your fellow warriors lose their battle and you begin to wonder if you are next. I started this blog as a means to communicate to friends and family what was going on in my life so I wouldn't have to repeat myself every time the phone rang.
Over time it morphed into a way to vent about my struggles and then a way to help others through theirs. As time progressed some of those I met at hospitals, doctor's offices, and this blog became friends. We shared our highs and lows through emails and other social media, but then things started to change. One by one I lost some of those people I began to feel so close to. We shared things with each other that only a fellow cancer patient would understand and we helped each other through of the rough times. Some of the emails I sent would not be returned and later I found they had lost their fight. Soon I would morn people I only knew for one reason, cancer. Some I had only known online.
I guess I should have realized this would happen, but I never realized the magnitude and the number that would die. Some of these people I knew for years. Last December I had the hardest blow of all. Jeanne Sather helped me edit this blog at times. Because of her blog, The Assertive Cancer Patient, which I referred to as 'Bitch Don't Mess With Me!" she helped me through more than just cancer.
One story she helped me with and I am most proud of was "DEAD MAN TALKING." A story of a fellow tongue cancer patient who was losing his battle and finally passed before we put the finishing touches on the story. Bob Pemberton was the first cancer friend that really hit me hard because we had the very same oral cancer. When I heard the news of Jeanne's passing I just went into a fog. She fought so hard to stay alive. There was nothing more she could have done to survive that she hadn't already tried. This woman was a force to be reckoned with.
She was a professional writer, editor, teacher, National Merit Scholar, jewelry designer, and lived with cancer for 13 years. She studied in Kobe, Japan, achieved a Master's Degree and Japanese Language and a second Master's Degree in Journalism. Jeanne was a translator, worked for a Japanese Broadcasting company and also worked for Newsweek among other news organizations. All this while adopting and raising two boys.
I guess this remains the hardest part about this blog and the people I meet because of cancer. There are times I get so tired of explaining how I can talk, how hard it was living on a feeding tube for so long, and how much my life has changed. I tried to wipe away the bad memories and pretend all is well and the worst is behind me. Looking in a mirror doesn't help. My battle scars are plentiful and bring me back to the day I lost my tongue every time I gaze into one. I avoid mirrors as much as possible and don't even allow pictures to be taken anymore.
Jeanne once asked me to send her a current picture and as tough as it was I sent here one. She was being kind I know, but she sent a simple note back..."Very handsome man." Friends have said I've had the scars and bandages for so long they don't even notice them because they know me from within. A very kind way to see others and so appreciated.
On occasion a stranger wanders by and has to ask the inevitable question often at a time I'm feeling very normal and cancer is not even on my mind. Then with one sentence I'm back on the operating table. Last week I was out in the front yard trying to tend to the flower beds when two young brothers four and five years old walked past eating candy. They stopped and very politely asked.."What happened?"
|Doppler wires that came out of my neck 3/14|
A few days before this I had another battle with those damn Doppler wires coming out of my neck. Last year at this same time I had the same problem. This year four more tiny wires worked their way out of my neck infecting it and causing great discomfort. Once again I am bandaged up for the quadbillionth time. I've been one big bandage for longer than I can recall!
I had surgery SEVEN years ago and my body is still SLOWLY rejecting the shrapnel I was told was made of surgical grade material and I would not have a problem with. THEY WERE WRONG!!!
|Total Doppler wires that have come out between 2007-1013|
ANYWAY...As the two young boys approached and asked politely the very question I am so tired of answering, I went right to my canned smartass answer. I sharply replied, "What happened? You mean to my face and neck? I got hit by a bus!" The young boy thought for a moment and then replied in a very serious tone, "Oh, well then...you should have driving the bus!" He put his liquorice stick to his mouth, pulled with a snap, and happily continued his walk down the street.
BAM! I've just been one-upped by a four year old! Yes, sometimes you just have to find the humor in all of it. Even if it takes a little man to remind you! Cancer can be funny.