You May Not Want to Read This
Partly, because I am not sure what I am going to say. But it’s sure to be a downer.
It has been a shitty month. Do you ever have those times in your life when all you want to do is dig a big hole, crawl down into it with a warm blanket, and cover your head? And cry? Yeah, guys do that, too. We just hate it a little more.
A year ago next month, I was diagnosed with cancer. In a way I have been lucky. For all intents and purposes, I should have been history some time in March or April, according to statistics. Physically I am still here; mentally, I’m not always so sure.
The idea of cancer tends to stay right in my face. I just saw a Newsweek article giving my “diagnosis” a 9% chance of 10 year survival. Hell, man, I’d be cool with five. At least for now.
I bring this up because tomorrow I go in for my 3rd three month check-up. They do the MRI, blood tests, and see the doc. Wait a minute, that’s not true. This time I see the doc’s nurse practitioner.
That introduces a new quandary. I don’t know if I should be happy that he was confident enough to delegate, or disappointed that I am no longer important enough for him to see.
I love my friends for doing this, but I loathe the things they often say. “Don’t worry.Think positive thoughts.” will be one. Another I hear often is, “You’re in our prayers.” Sweet of them, but they must not know me very well. Worrying is absolutely natural at times like this; and I grew out of the sky-watcher myth soon after running as fast as possible away from Catholic School.
Luck of the Draw
I wasn’t surprised when the diagnosis came, other than the normal shock when anyone gets a diagnosis like this. I lived a life long ago that certainly primed me for getting sick. I learned a few years ago that I had Hepatitis C making my liver fertile ground for bad stuff to grow.
There are some things all baby boomers should know about this particular disease. If it has never occurred to you that you might, it’s a good idea to get checked.
Hepatitis C, not AIDS or Influenza is the disease of the 21st Century. By some estimates, as many as 30 million adults in the US have the virus. Of them, a majority are baby boomers. Most have no idea they have it.
Unfortunately, there are few, if any, symptoms of this disease. When there are symptoms, they are somewhat flu-like (from Mayo Clinic):
- Nausea or poor appetite
- Brain Fog
- Muscle and joint pain
- Tenderness in area of liver
If you do have it, see a liver specialist. Depending on the type and severity, he or she may recommend treatment. Whether or not you decide on treating the illness (which is not a lot of fun) there are still some things you can do;
- If you use alcohol or nicotine, stop. Both of these will degrade your immune system.
- Even if your doctor doesn’t recommend it, have, at the least, an ultrasound every 6 month. Had I been doing that, the tumor I had would have been found much sooner.
It’s somewhat rare that cancer occurs with C. On the other hand, it doesn’t matter if the odds are a thousand to one, once it happens the odds no long count.
Prevention is the only control we have over the luck of the draw.
I’ll get through this. I’m not counting myself out. As my more intelligent half says, even if they throw all they got at us tomorrow, we’ll just keep marching on. Even when the world seems like shit, it’s the best one we’ve got.
If you’re still here, thanks for reading.