As a Cancer Patient, I Would Have Been an Inspiring Example of Courage, with an Endearing Sense of Humor that Belied My Dire Circumstances
As my stomach slowly recedes, I’m starting to see other things where my stomach used to bulge out. My ribs, for example. I haven’t seen those in some time. Or ab muscles: those are still buried pretty deep, but I can at least tell they’re there. And what’s this? I do believe I have pecs! Waddaya know.
About a month ago, I noticed one other thing: a lump in my chest. On the left side, just below my rib cage. And as I lost weight, it became more noticeable. And it wasn’t going away.
I Do Not Panic
There’s been enough cancer in my family (my wife, my sister Kellene, my stepmother, my stepfather, my paternal grandmother) that I was pretty sure I had cancer. I did not tell anybody. I also didn’t call a doctor for a good long time. After all, what if it was just one of those really-deeply-buried zits that take forever to go away?
But it continued to not go away.
I am Twisted
Finally, I decided I’d better go learn the inevitable, so I could begin my treatment. On Tuesday, I made a doctor appointment for the following afternoon (Wednesday, for those of you who have trouble with math).
Once I had made the appointment, my mind kicked into overdrive. I started thinking about the implications of having cancer. Here are the predominant themes of my thinking:
- I felt bad for my wife having to take on the extra burden of watching the kids while I’m sick
- I decided that I would try to continue to ride my bike during treatment, even if just around the neighborhood
- I thought about what great stories I’d be able to make from this experience. I would be courageous, good-humored, and encouraging to my fellow cancer-havers. I would be the model cancer patient. People would be so inspired by me that they would buy yellow wristbands, cross out the "Strong" in "LiveStrong" and change it to "LiveFat."
I should point out that if you’re a little bit bothered by the fact that part of me was looking forward to cancer treatment — even after I had seen the hell it put my wife through — you are not alone.
Strangely, I did not worry about whether the cancer would kill me. In fact, that thought did not even occur to me until after my doctor visit.
I am Fine
Of course, you can tell from the title of this post that I do not have cancer, or the title of this post would have been, "I HAVE CANCER!!!!" The doctor checked out the lump and said, "You have a Lipoma."
A Lipoma, which I am capitalizing in a desperate attempt to salvage some seriousness out of a very trivial thing, is a benign tumor, made up of fatty tissue.
It is, in short, a lump of fat. In other words, my tumor is a metaphor for me: An initially alarming — but ultimately harmless — lump of fat.
Today’s weight: 162.0 lbs. Which means I have hit my target weight for the week a day early. Just think how light I’d be without that lipoma!
Late-Night Update: I’ve decided to run this topic into the ground with a little context. Basically, I’ve talked with a few people, read a few comments, and have decided I have some explaining to do.
First off, you’ll note that I never explored the comic possibilities of this lump until I knew it was safe. That’s because I didn’t see any comic possibilities in it until I knew it was safe. Only then was I able to cast the silver lining I had created for myself — "Well, at least I’ll have some good stories to tell when this is over" — into a wacky boast: "Hey, wouldn’t cancer be a great conversation piece?" Which is to say: no, I wasn’t really looking forward to chemo. I’ve seen it up close, and it’s not something I liked to think about at all. Which is why I waited a couple months after I discovered the lump to consult a doctor. Those of you who have been reading the blog long enough that you remember the story of how I waited several hours after suffering partial paralysis to consult a doctor will recognize this as in-character behavior.
The second point is one my wife made, and which I ought to have considered: not everyone comes away from that doctor appointment with the sense of relief that I did. Some people come away knowing that they’ve got a whole bunch of hell in front of them. To those people, this isn’t a very funny story. And to those people, I apologize.