Friday, March 16, 2007

book excerpt: Forever Sweet Sixteen (Part I of III)

A certain individual said he wouldn't support me because he hadn't read any of my book. For that reason I've decided to share the second chapter to I've Still Got Both My Nuts: A True Cancer Story.

My dad said to me, "If you run out of things to write for your blog, you could add chapters from your book. Nobody would even know."

Although he was right, this will most likely be the only time I show segments from my book.

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Update: This is an old version of Chapter 2. As of February 2008 it has been significantly altered.

Chapter 2: FOREVER SWEET SIXTEEN

If time was to stop and I was stuck at one age for the rest of my life, then I would want to stay 16 forever. The only two negatives at that time were not being the legal age to get into an R-rated movie, and the hip thing…

I was 16 and over halfway through my sophomore year of high school in Northern Virginia when it started. I was on the tennis team, not because it was my favorite sport but because I wasn’t good enough to make soccer or baseball. In the first week of practice we had a round-robin tournament to determine seeding.

My first match was against Froddy, also a sophomore. Froddy was a very technical player with a powerful serve, but got frustrated every time he made a mistake. My style of play was simply to run my ass off and hit the ball back each time. Our match was extremely intense and long, spanning over two days of practice and lasting three hours. Every game went into deuce. I had trouble handling his serve and he had trouble putting me away. Finally, as practice was coming to a close on the second day, I won. “Fuck you,” he screamed as he threw his racket at the ground. “I hate this fucking shit!”

On my drive home from practice that day I felt a throbbing pain in my left hip. Am I that out of shape? The following afternoon I started to do the pre-practice run, but every time I landed on my left leg I felt an extremely sharp pain in my hip. I put the pain behind me and continued to run. The season just began; no fucking way am I going to complain about leg pain.

When the season started I was playing mostly doubles with Froddy, who was fun as hell as a partner. After his mistakes he’d get down on himself and start cursing. I constantly had to calm him down: “It’s okay, Froddy. Everything’s gonna be alright, just chill.”

We were a great team and demolished most of our opponents. Unfortunately, my hip was holding both of us back. I tried my best to push through the pain, but I was still much too slow. Eventually, our coach split us up and paired him with another player, while they became the #3 ranked doubles tandem on the team.

I stuck it out the rest of the season and played as hard as I could. Stretching helped some, but there was no avoiding the pain. I took a whole lot of shit from my teammates and friends. “Quit being such a pussy” was commonly said to me.

By the time May rolled around, I knew there was something seriously wrong with me. I decided to wait before I told my parents because my family was going on a trip to Israel at the end of June and I didn’t want to ruin it.

The Israel trip was awesome, and much more fun than I had anticipated. We were in a large tour group, so there were some other kids that JD and I hung out with while my parents absorbed all the history (social studies was always my worst subject). One night in Jerusalem we went to Pizza Hut for dinner. “I’ll have the personal pan pepperoni,” I said.

“What is that?” the waiter asked as the rest of my table started cracking up.

“What are you guys laughing about…oh yeah, the whole kosher thing, my bad. I’ll take a cheese pizza.”

The best part of the trip was climbing Mount Masada, located next to the Dead Sea. Most of the group took the lift up to the top of the mountain, but some of us walked in the 115 degree heat. The past couple weeks I had been in constant pain, even in a resting position, but I was determined to walk up that mountain.

“Are you sure you want to walk this?” my older brother, JD, asked. “It’ll be hard, even for me.”

“Yeah. No way am I sitting this one out.”

I finished the climb in 45 minutes. Once I reached the top I felt one of the worst pains I’ve ever experienced. It was also one of the proudest moments in my life; that, and sticking it out the whole tennis season with an aggressive tumor growing in my pelvis.

When we got home from Israel, I finally told my mom that I should see a doctor, so she scheduled an appointment for me. My family internist told me it was a stress fracture and scheduled me for an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). The radiologist saw something strange on the pictures, so my internist ordered another MRI. A couple weeks later he ordered me to get a bone scan. By this time he must’ve known something was terribly wrong because bone scans are generally used to look for cancer. All the while, I still thought it was a stress fracture. After the scan my doctor said there was nothing else he could do, and sent me to see an orthopedic surgeon.

Keep reading:
book excerpt: Forever Sweet Sixteen (Part II of III)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good day!
You are incredible, but I knew that the minute I met you at the Metrodome in Minneapolis at a Minnesota TWins ballgame!
You and your family blessed all of us with your courage, and just plain steel-strength tenacity!
Obviously God Given Will To Live. . .I pray the book will be published. . .I am happy to do whatever I can do to assist! The Minnesota TWins send our care and our prayers to you today, as we have for the years we have known you!
God Bless. . .Stay strong. . .you are a STAR!
glo westerdahl
minnesota twins

Anonymous said...

I hear the Rocky Theme in the background! Such courage. Such determination. You have an iron will. No surprise to me that you were able to hang onto your nuts...........

Sandra said...

When you decide to get real, you get really real, and it is powerful stuff.

Jonathan said...

It really is amazing that you made it up that mountain. I was not lying when I said I'd have trouble with that climb!!!