August 29th, 2012
| Survivor: Colon and Rectal Cancer
This column was the first written by Myles Beskind, who always tackled cancer mysteries with honesty and humor. He has since passed away, but his work continues to inspire cancer fighters and survivors today.
A How-To Guide to Cancer
While sitting in the chemotherapy room at my oncologist's office, I heard one of my fellow patients say "Somebody should write a how-to guide to cancer."
"Great idea," someone else responded. Then the Benadryl kicked in and I was out like a light. By the time I woke up, all the other lounge chairs were empty and a nurse was disconnecting me from the infusion machine.
Despite the anti-nausea drug-induced haze, I held onto that thought. I remembered my wife reading that "What to Expect" book when she was pregnant with our first child. People had been doing pregnancy just fine for thousands of years, but there was still great demand for a guide that was equal parts educational and entertaining. If it worked for expectant moms, why not for cancer patients?
Smart, Slow Cancer
Let's back up a step or two. Like many of you on this site, I had cancer. It suffices to say I've got some really smart cancer; it figured out how to jump from a polyp in my colon to my pelvis and lungs without ever being seen in the colon tissue itself. Lucky me! The good news is that my cancer is a lot like the nerdy kid in 8th grade with the taped-together glasses on Field Day: smart but really slow. That means we catch it in scans early and then have plenty of time to devise an attack plan. So far, so good.
Oscopies and Ostomies and Ectomies - Oh My!
Many of you are new to cancer and are just hearing words like "chemo" and "scans" for the first time, at least as they relate to you or the person you're helping. You may also be hearing about surgery, radiation, radiosurgery, -oscopies, -ostomies, -ectomies, support groups, ports...and you probably tuned out long before somebody went through the rest of the list.
Have no fear - well, OK , have a little fear, it's only natural - but you can count on this column to give you some idea of what you're likely to run into on your cancer journey.
There Will Be... Humor!
There will be discussions of body parts, bodily fluids and semi-solids that you won't believe actually came from your body, but trust me, they did. I assume I will also give you legal disclaimers reminding you that I'm just some accountant who's learned his way through the oncology maze. My degree qualifies me to count beans, not blood cells. In other words, my musings aren't a substitute for a doctor's advice. Funnier, perhaps, but not necessarily better--at least from a medical perspective.
Cancer Ain't Nuthin' But a Bully
Cancer is no different than any other bully you've faced in your life. Sure, it could grab you by the collar of your brand-new, powder blue Izod your mom bought at JC Penney last week, drag you into the boy's bathroom at the end of the lunchroom hall and stick your head in what you can only hope was a recently-flushed toilet... Sorry, bad memory. I need a moment...
Where was I? Oh, right -- Cancer the Bully. Sometimes, you have to face that bully, gather a few of your closest friends around, and just laugh at it. Make fun of it. Regale each other with stories of how you got through the weeks and months of its best shots. Sure, you may still end up with your face resting on the edge of that porcelain bowl, but you'll feel much better about the whole predicament if you managed to laugh a little before the nausea hit.
What to Expect When You're Reading This Column
Once a month, we'll delve into some aspect of cancer treatment. I hope you'll share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section as well as any ideas you have for future topics. If I haven't had that particular experience (trans-vaginal ultrasound comes to mind), someone at IHadCancer would be happy to do the research and get back to you--just reach out to them at TeamIHadCancer.
In the meantime, keep laughing. You never know what to expect when you're metastasizing!
What are some things you'd pass on to someone who's metastasizing? Share your insight in the comments below!
Photo courtesy of Tim Marshall.
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