Thursday, November 8, 2007

Welcome to the Cancer Life (Part III of III)

Read these first:
Welcome to the Cancer Life (Part I of III)
Welcome to the Cancer Life (Part II of III)

I didn't understand why I had to get more chemo following surgery—almost twice the number of cycles as before my surgery—since the tumor was completely dead and had been entirely removed. Actually, research on different protocols showed that to be the proper amount.

After surgery, my friends always knew where I was because I couldn’t go anywhere. The one time I visited my surgeon, Zeke and PepperoniNip came around back to my porch expecting to see me sitting in my La-Z-Boy through the window. When I wasn’t there they thought something was wrong.

I was going out by the end of winter. One morning I got blood work, and then ate breakfast at IHOP with my mom. It snowed on the way home and for the rest of the afternoon. I spent my day playing a snowboarding game, SSX, on PlayStation 2 and staring out the window. What a sight. Zeke was supposed to come play, but didn’t want his car getting stuck. I wished I could sled, or walk across the woods to Zeke's house and toss the football. Maybe next year. During the blizzard of ’96 while walking from my house to his, we each had to pee. “There’s too much snow!” I complained. “I can’t whip it out; it’s up to my belly button!” Height was never my strongest attribute.

Rehabbing became a part-time job after surgery. Fortunately, I had the best physical therapist, Formula-6. He pushed me to my limit, and then beyond. Once while exercising on the horizontal leg press, I used so much force that I squeaked one out. Weeks later while visiting my surgeon I was performing leg extensions. I was showing off my tremendous progress and Dr. M&M was showing off his great surgical work to his fellows. I put all my energy into one huge leg lift and it just came out. I couldn’t help it. I got some giggles and one comment: “Too much pressure, huh?”

Before walking on land I walked in the swimming pool, without the full force of gravity. I rehabbed at my local pool twice a week. When I told my leg to move, it responded through a significant range of motion. When summer came around, PepperoniNip’s family allowed me to use their pool. When those hot summer days began I knew it would be over shortly.


And just like that, it was all over. I finished chemo and several weeks later my radiation. The doctors sent me on my way, not to return for a month. One minute I was the perfect cancer patient with the Superman-like ability to battle one of the world’s nastiest diseases, and the next minute I was just another one of the millions of cancer survivors.

My goal that year had been to become cancer-free, and I reached it. I had expected something dramatic to accompany the freedom, but nothing really changed. Having cancer was similar to not having cancer—they were both part of the gradual and linear path known as my life. Over the years I’ve noticed that to be the case for a lot of things. Events take place, milestones are reached, and life just keeps moving along seeming not to care about our individual accomplishments and tragedies. I think I understand now that it’s the journey that matters.

Continue reading "My Cancer Story": Bombs Over September (Part I of II)