Last night was the first “real” snow of Winter here in Westfield and with it came a reminder of everything that has happened in the past year. As I sit at the table with my coffee this morning, I am reminded of where I was this time last year – fighting off my initial diagnosis and wondering what would be in store for me in the future. 12 cycles of Chemo later and I am fighting not the initial diagnosis but the recurrence.
Strange thing is I am not worried about it. There has never been a doubt in my mind that I would beat this. I never allowed Cancer to dictate the course of the past year and I am not going to let it dictate the course of the future. This morning my biggest concern is how to defend Scotch Plains in basketball later today.
And although my confidence is high in beating Cancer for good, I would be lying if I told you that it didn’t suck sometimes to have Cancer. Last night we were at a Bat Mitzvah. I was feeling a little “cancery” – a little achy. Probably more a symptom of the cold weather but you never know. I hadn’t felt those tingles in the bones for a year now. Are they back? Who knows? 12 cycles of Chemo and I’ve gained over 25 pounds from the bloating and the steroids. I am uncomfortable in my suits. They don’t fit. When Helene and I took a picture last night I didn’t even want to look at it. At one point last night I had to find a place just to be alone because I didn’t want anyone to see me cry.
So – that’s the toughest part about this. The loss of control. As much as I forge ahead and dictate to Cancer that I won’t live life on its terms there are certain things that I just can’t control. I don’t miss work for Cancer. I don’t miss my kids’ games for Cancer. I go to the gym, I coach, I live my life the same as I would without Cancer – or at least to the best of my ability. I am not going to sit back and allow myself to be the guy in the photo montage that everyone says “Awwwww…” when his picture comes up. I wasn’t going to allow Cancer to prevent us from going last night. We drove through an ice storm/snow storm to get there – but it wasn’t going to stop us. This was a celebration for one of the truly great families in our lives.
The Cancer part is easy. The loss of control part is hard. Whether it’s the weight gain, the bloating, the anger and rage from the steroids there is much more going on underneath the surface than just Cancer. People see me and say “Oh, you look great.” and I smile and nod. Nobody sees the inside. Nobody sees the silent symptoms – and if they could – I don’t know if they could really and truly understand them.
I am looking forward to getting away next week and taking that control back. I am looking forward to relaxing, being in the gym everyday, being on a beach, at a pool and spending time with my family with no drugs in me. Being genuinely ME again.
One year has gone by. I have learned how to accomplish many things in spite of my diagnosis. In the next year my goal is to learn how to control (or cope) with the stupid shit it brings along with it.