Saturday, December 1, 2007

Bombs Over September (Part II of II)

Read this first: Bombs Over September (Part I of II)

I itched with senioritis. On the morning of May 3, 2002, Big Easy and I planned our elaborate escape from school and past the security guard for the first showing of Spider-Man. When second period ended we left our respective classes for the front door. I saw Big Easy 20 feet ahead. Please don’t look back and make us look suspicious. We escaped unharmed and saw Spider-Man in a packed theater. “I wish I was bitten by a super spider,” Big Easy said when it ended.

My calculus homework packet was due that afternoon. I left it with a friend to turn in for me, along with a note for my teacher that read: “I had to go see Spider-Man. Please don’t punish me. Actually, today is my last day of physical therapy. After 15 ½ months I’m finally done.” I finished the note with a smiley.

Rehabilitation helped bring my life closer to its pre-cancer equivalent, namely the ability to walk again without assistance from a crutch or cane. Aside from my hip strength, other things came back following treatment. My bowels and radiated skin normalized. My intelligence returned to pre-cancer levels, which my friends may joke weren’t very high to begin with. I even gave Colossus rides to school just like during my sophomore year. And he always made us late, just like two years before.

Some things never returned to normal. Some friends, including TerribleAtHoops from my neighborhood whom I’d known my entire life, unintentionally drifted when I had cancer. I was rarely around and there comes a point when you miss so many experiences that you just can’t entirely catch up. It felt like my high school moved on and left me behind, evident in my junior yearbook which didn’t have a single picture or mention of me. I was such a ghost that a friend asked, “Where’ve you been, I haven’t seen you in forever?” He either didn’t know I was back to school or didn’t know I had cancer to begin with.

I like to think I came back with a bang my senior year. I didn’t miss a day of school except the week I was forced out because of the shingles. Though, my senioritis led me to dip out early for golf, Star Wars and Spider-Man.

I surely made my mark in the senior yearbook. I was in the photo for clubs I almost never participated in. I was voted Parliamentarian of the Chess Club without knowing what that meant, but since so many non-members flooded the Chess Club photo, the yearbook gave no mention of my crucial position. Zeke, a non-member, claimed to be “Director of Pieces.” I would’ve been upset if they printed that and not Parliamentarian.

With pride, I was the reason my class got booted from the senior lounge during the final weeks of school. An epic food fight started when I threw a balled up aluminum foil at BornWithFullBeard. He returned fire with tater tots. Soon after, some girls ran screaming into the cafeteria and others hid behind tables.

At the end of the year, my teacher and former blood and platelet donor, Mr. Spunkmeyer, emceed a ceremony honoring our graduating class. He read which college each of us would attend, as well as scholarships earned. One of my scholarships was from the American Caner Society. Not wanting to embarrass me, Mr. Spunkmeyer hesitated before reading that one, unsure whether he should say it aloud.

That was the approach most people took, based on my lead—to move on as if cancer was a tiny roadblock from my past, not even deserving of mention. That’s what I wanted to believe and what I wanted others to perceive. I was Superman and didn’t need to acknowledge that I was any less normal or healthy than anyone else.

Just as my supreme ability to fight cancer fueled my Superman complex, my Superman complex further fueled my belief that I was invincible in every way. Looking back, I don’t think it’s possible to leave cancer behind the way I attempted to. Those experiences and memories, both positive and negative, will always be with me. They helped shape the person I’ve become.

Continue reading "My Cancer Story": Again (Part I of III)

3 comments:

Mike said...

Wow! Now there;s some funny and poignant memories here. If we could get more people to donate blood and/or platelets....

Shannon said...

I'm just now reading all of your blogs and they are phenomenal...I have absorbed a lot of imformation but was not compelled to make a comment until I read that you were the starter of the food fight senior year that resulted in our expulsion from the senior lounge....lol, it's funny the things you remember and how life turns out in the end :o)

Benjamin Rubenstein said...

Thanks, Shannon. That food fight was epic.