Monday, October 8, 2007

Welcome to the Good Life (Part I of II)

Continued from "My Cancer Story": Teeter Totter of Life (Part II of II)
Read "My Cancer Story" from the beginning: The Golden Age (Part I of III)

People bought me things—some who I'd never met before, and some expensive things, like video games, an mp3 player and a portable CD player. NoCommonSense's dad wanted to impart some Beatles culture on me, so he bought me their greatest hits. My rabbi bought me the new Ja Rule CD, Rule 3:36. I wanted him to listen with me, but he wasn’t into gangsta rap.

My parents and Aunt Flojo ordered whatever I wanted to eat. Huge, fatty, delicious milkshakes and greasy, heart-clogging foods were shoved down my throat. If I had the ability and desire to become obese, they would’ve gladly financed my girth.

School became a circus. I attended when I could and took breaks when I wanted. I dropped one class and spent those 90 minutes in the guidance office with two other kids. Our conversations probably led the guidance counselors to wonder why we weren't with other learning disabled students.

My mom drove me to my clinic checkups. Sometimes on the way home we went out to eat or rented a movie. It got even worse (or better) after surgery when I didn’t attend school for three months and my mom and I frequented Pizza Hut or the mall for Roman Delight Pizza, my favorite. We did not bump into the truant officer.

Maybe my slackness is why my SAT scores declined between the beginning and end of treatment. Did I get stupider? Is stupider even a word?

Because of my pooping troubles, breakfast decisions were simplified to oatmeal. Because of my reduced schoolwork, at night I familiarized myself with obscure shows such as Titus, Gideon's Crossing and Grounded for Life. Most aspects of my life outside of cancer became easier. Some people don't like easier; some people don't like using the cancer card, including me. But when that kind of lifestyle is available, it's hard to decline.

Seeing the good side of cancer was not a function of fearing death and the accompanied desire to treasure my remaining time. I didn't fear death. It was a function of, at least partly, my simplified life and the reduction in choices and activities. I didn't always eat, so when I did that Starburst tasted sweeter. My hospital didn't have cable, so when I was home, SportsCenter made my mornings more entertaining.

Going to the movie theater or dinner became an event, not just something you do, but rather something truly special. And I can still remember them all: Olive Garden with my mom after Cycle 3; Uno's with my mom and Aunt Flojo after Cycle 4; Cast Away with my family after Cycle 5, to name a few.

I can remember everything about those special events. We saw Cast Away on Christmas in 2000. I wore my white Eddie Bauer sweater and olive green cargo pants. I got up to pee halfway through the movie and wondered, do these people know that I have cancer from one look in a dark theater? I was so happy that day. I was happy that I finished Cycle 5 and was healthy enough to see that great movie with my family. I was genuinely happy with life. I was so happy that I almost wanted time to stop. It is times like that I miss so badly now that it hurts.

Keep reading: Welcome to the Good Life (Part II of II)


patty said...

Eating out is one of my favorite things to do! And I guess I should be more grateful for the simpler life. To go to work, or not to work? I mean, who gets that choice? But I do tend more to the frustrated side: damn living with my parents, damn messed up life plan, damn part time job I never wanted. But you're right! Simpler is nice. Should I wake up or stay in bed? I think I'll flash my cancer card.

Clare said...

Somehow the title of this post seems familiar...

Let me ride on your coattails and I won't bitch about it.

Pinkie Promise. ;)

Charles Crookes said...
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