July 31, 2005

My Story

I don’t know how long this is going to run, so I’m going to break it up into parts.

Please bear with me; I believe this information is important—it is to me—and may, I sincerely hope, be important to others. I’m kind of a private person; I certainly don’t like to talk about myself very much, but I think that what I want to say overrides my inclination toward privacy.

I have had two kinds of cancer. The following posts will describe how I have dealt with them. It will take years to determine whether we have effected a cure for either.

Physicians: If I say something that is just patently wrong, please give me your comments and make your case. I’ll be happy to correct the appropriate post if necessary.

Constructive comments are indeed welcomed and encouraged. We, as survivors and families of survivors, need to support one another, learn from one another, and help one another. We are not alone.

A favorite tee-shirt that I bought at my physician's office, Dr. Charles Myers:

says, quite simply, "Surviving Is Living to Tell About It".

So here I am, telling about it.

First, I must ask, please, no sympathy. Sympathy, in my view, is appropriate for funerals and divorces. I am very happily married and a long way from being dead.

Part 1—a little history

When I was 10, my Mom developed throat cancer. She had the tumor removed, and its only apparent effect was that she could no longer sing in the church choir. During the next 6 years, she also developed uterine cancer and breast cancer; both cancers were surgically removed, although she almost died during one of these operations. Well, actually she was clinically dead for a short time, but she fought her way back.

When I was 16, she died. When I look back, the signs were there, but I wasn’t aware of how serious things were. I am thankful that I made her proud of me in my junior year, and I am thankful that I had the opportunity to kiss her good-bye the day before. I didn’t see her the day she died; they called me out of speech class to tell me. One of those moments forever etched in my mind.

Around 35 years later, my father died of a combination of prostate cancer and colon cancer, with additional suffering from unchecked osteoporosis. It was a hard and painful death. He also had a stress-related cardiac condition, but cancer took his life.

So a common thread in my family begins to appear. How I dealt with it is described in Part 2.

Stick with me. Your life might depend on it. Men generally don’t talk about health issues; we should.