It was a brisk day in October during my senior year of high school, and my hip began to hurt. Pain wasn’t unusual – after all, it had only been nine months since my surgery. I was still getting two hours of physical therapy a week and needed to use a cane. But as the day went on, the pain increased substantially and spread from my hip to my knee. I had no idea what the problem was, but there was one thing that I prayed to God it wasn’t – the return of my cancer.
When school let out after calculus I saw my friend T2theZ in the lobby. “Hey, does my left knee look swollen to you?” I asked, as I lifted both my pant legs.
“Whoa dude,” T2theZ replied. “Why is your left leg so much skinnier than your right leg?”
“Hey moron, I didn’t walk on it for a few months. What about the knee?”
“Yeah, it does look a little swollen. What’s wrong with it?”
“I don’t know, maybe I sprained it.”
I had PT the next day and my physical therapist, Formula-6, analyzed my knee. He determined there was nothing wrong with it, and that I was experiencing referred pain from my hip. “Your brain is telling you that your knee hurts, but the source of pain is actually in your hip. Stay on crutches until you see your surgeon,” Formula-6 told me. I agreed, but hated the idea of going back on crutches since I had worked so fucking hard to get off of them.
My mom called my surgeon’s office and got me an appointment. When Dr. M&M walked into my room after looking at the new Xrays, I became very nervous. “Is it cancer?” I quietly asked, knowing the answer might rock my world.
“No, it’s not cancer. You have little calcifications growing where your pelvic bone used to be.”
“What are calcifications?”
“They’re small bone growths; it’s very common.”
“Whoo, that’s good news.”
“I’m going to put you on Celebrex twice a day. That should get rid of your pain.”
Celebrex is a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory pain reliever, or COX-2 inhibitor. Two days after I started taking it my hip and knee pain disappeared, so I ditched my crutches and went back to my cane.
This was my first of many cancer teases – an incident that makes me think I have cancer, even though it turns out not to be. As my cancers and cancer teases have accumulated, it now takes less and less of an incident to convince me. No matter how unlikely it is, and even though I know it’s extremely unlikely, The Fear takes over and doesn’t let go until I have indisputable proof otherwise.
No matter how awful The Fear is, there is a certain appreciation for life that occurs when the cancer tease is over. It is always brief – anywhere from several minutes to a few days – but the feeling is truly amazing. Times like that remind me what it’s like to be young, healthy and living. It feels like the world is mine for the taking. It feels like today, tomorrow, yesterday, any day is a great day to be alive.