“I don’t feel like myself,” I repeatedly told my wife, “I can’t describe it but I just feel…off.”
I was right.
Several doctor appointments, several tests, six weeks of meds, and an uncomfortable biopsy later, I was told I had Prostate cancer.
Not great news, but it is now treatable and has extremely high survival rates. Until it spreads. Then things start getting dicey.
My cancer had spread and the biopsy pegged it at an 8/10 on the Gleason Scale. This shit was aggressive. Even the doctors took it seriously.
I did some reading and tried to wrap my head around what I’d been told. Living halfway around the world, I had to plan how to tell my family, all within a few hours, through a series of skype calls. Things went remarkably well. My family was surprised but I was able to manage the news without too much drama.
I had to tell my son.
And a few friends.
And I guess my co-workers?
So I did. And it went surprisingly well, too. No one seemed too upset, or asked too many questions, or at least any questions I hadn’t prepared for. That was done. So far cancer was going well. It had only been a few weeks but I felt like I had this Cancer stuff managed.
Then I started radiation treatments. They were pretty easy, at first. I had a specific time I had to get up in order to enjoy a coffee before I had to leave to get to the hospital, every morning. I had timed all the lights so that I could get there in 15 minutes. My treatments happened within about a 30-minute window. I could leave my place, drive to the hospital, sign in, get dosed, grab my paperwork, and be back home in about an hour and twenty minutes.
Then it started to hurt. Not like before, but really hurt: At random times, or any time I went near a bathroom. And it got worse. The meds got stronger. I was tired. The meds weren’t nearly enough. I couldn’t eat out of fear of causing more pain. And it got worse.
My once little boy worried about me. I could see his protective instincts flair, maybe for the first time, when I reached for something at the table and the pain slapped me down, and held me there, and pummeled me, finally relenting in a slow, uneven, begrudged retreat.
I saw him look at me, once, at night, when I was lying on the couch and he thought I was sleeping. He turned his head from where he sat, in the armchair my wife was sitting in when I had proposed to her, to say something to me about the show we were watching. He thought I was asleep. But I saw him.
I saw him as he looked at his father, fully clothed, wrapped in a wool blanket and a toasty cat, burrowed into the sofa and pulled heavily down into a deep, black, pharmaceutical lack of consciousness.
How could things ever be the same?
Every day for eight weeks I was poisoned for my own good. And it worked. The cancer was still there but it was less ambitious and was smarting from a sound kicking in the teeth.
A blood test, every three months, to keep an eye on the beast, became a new normal for me.
If all goes well, the smaller hammer, hormone therapy, over the next few years will end this sorry tale.
In less than a year things around me grew, and aged, and came into a sharper focus.
New realities foisted themselves onto me.
The reins slipped in my hands for the first time and my son grew on his own. I couldn’t be the one his troubled face turned to. Not now. Not about this.
But for now, the news is good. He’s found a new passion and I’m excited for him.
It’s been a while. But maybe if the weather is nice tomorrow, we can go for a short ride. Or not. Maybe we can sleep in, and then hit the bookstore. Or maybe we can cook a ginger stir fry for dinner. Or maybe not.
Maybe we could just order pizza and watch Firefly.