A New Beginning

This installment is dedicated to the memory of my friend, Sue Dillon, who lost her 15 year battle with breast cancer on February 13, 2014.

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October 7, 1960. That’s my birthday.

January 22, 2014. That’s my birthday. Well, more like a second birthday. A second birthday after a most harrowing period of my life.

On January 22, I was reborn after a confirming phone conversation with Dr. David, my oncologist, that my Lymphoma was in remission.

I know I cannot possibly compare my case to those who have, have had or will have  much more serious conditions than I, but it was my own personal Hell to go through, a hell which really kicked into high gear starting with that damned late morning phone call on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 (“You better find yourself an oncologist“) and which lasted until a few short weeks ago.

It is my objective, during the course of the following weeks of reliving my experience that it not only be a continued exercise in healing but to reach at least one person who may unfortunately need some encouragement. I don’t want to use the word closure because, first of all, I don’t like that word, but to paraphrase the words of my doctor “with cancer…you never know about these things”.

A lot of people called me brave for going through what I went through, but I don’t consider myself that way. I was just doing what I had to do to keep from dying, which, as you can imagine, that thought had taken a firm stance center stage in my mind. And the one thing I know for sure is that I never really asked the question, “Why me?”. I was too focused on getting better. I was determined that Ariel would not finish out our lives together without me.

That’s not to say that I didn’t have my moments when I wanted to give up, that I felt like the suffering wasn’t worth it and I just wanted to be left alone. Fortunately, those moments were few and far between. And I had Ariel, who wouldn’t let me give up, even though he afforded me the time to get through my bouts of anxiety in my own time.

But even during the darkest of days there were some bright ones. There was a light at the end of the tunnel, though that tunnel at times seemed to stretch itself beyond belief.

This was a new experience for me, for us, and all we had to go on was the doctors’ say so as to the course of treatment, what the side effects would be–a time line of events from point A to point B–but none of that mattered to me. To me it was all gibberish, how could the doctor possibly know what I was going through? Well, except for maybe one or two truly minor speed bumps along the way, their predictions were on the money and some things even surprised the doctors and nurses, in a good way.

As you read this, I am currently nursing two fresh bodily assaults: one from having my Chemo port finally removed this past Thursday and two, my new constant reminder that I made it through–my new “survivor” tattoo I had done on Friday.

port     tattoo

I half expected the port to be a monster looking thing with valves dangling all over the place like an octopus but it was just this simple affair. I asked them if I could keep it, as a memento, but for sanitary reasons they changed their minds at the last minute but allowed me to take a picture of it. And whether it’s the way the lights are hitting it or it’s actually printed on it, the number 5 is definitely on there, and that’s my favorite number.

The green ribbon on the tattoo, of course is for the Lymphoma and the flowers are from a family artifact; a card from a bouquet of flowers I assume was given by my great-grandfather, JL Sigley (remember him?) to Elsie, my great-grandmother. We just reworked the positioning of the flowers to fit my design.

I thought for a while how best to present this story and those of you who know me, know that when I tell a story.. I tell a story! The best way to fully experience anything is to either be there in the first place, or get as detailed a description as can possibly be painted.

This story may get graphic at times but it’s that harsh reality that will put the stamp on it that needs to be there. Cancer is a shitty thing, to be sure, but, and I’ve said this all along, I think this cancer may have saved my life.

In the next weekly installments,  I will take you back to the beginning and we’ll work our way to the present. Depending on how long this series runs, I may be interjecting some present day reports as they come up.

I feel like this might be like a page right out of Dragnet, but while the story is true, I will be using assumed names for my doctors, nurses and most other characters.

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