After the surgeries, heavy duty chemo, then radiation and chemo together, I was, to say the least, a sorry sight. After 57 years of being so darn good looking, (well, at least Lisa says I am), with a great head of hair, something all 3 of my brothers hate me for, and possessing rock-solid good health....up to that point, then boom!
Now I was BALD, feeding tube hanging out of my 6 pack abs (OK my abs were a 6 pack of Burger King Whoppers), with a half dollar sized chemo port bulging from my chest, and a tracheotomy tube protruding from my neck looking like an overflow pipe at Lake Ann. I looked like hell, Hank said I "looked like Uncle Fester from the Adams Family". He was right. All I need was the light bulb and with all the radioactive stuff in me, it might have lit up in my mouth!
Then I started to realize all of the benefits of having cancer. Did I say "BENEFITS"? You bet your bed pan! Let me list just a few for you:
Number 1: Early Retirement. You jump right to the point in life of our senior citizens. No work, all play! Yes, it was easier to "play" young and healthy, however, it's still nice to have some time off after 40+ years of 10 to 12 hour work days! And to learn the tricks of survival on a small Social Security check, just like our beloved seniors, is a brand new game. Boy, I wish I could just get 1/2 of what I paid in....they could keep the other 1/2!.
Number 2: Loosing An Extra Few Pounds. I hear most people talk about how they want to loose weight...and with cancer, it's no problem! The pounds just disappear. Heck before I could say "Richard Simmons", I was down to the same weight as my sophomore year of high school (those of you that knew me then remember that I could turn sideways and hide behind a telephone pole). And the old clothes that I had packed away for years, not only fit, they are back in style!
Number 3: Legitimate Handicapped Parking. It is so nice to not circle and circle the parking lots like a falcon desperate to swoop down on it's prey in search of a spot anywhere near the store. Not to mention, the seemingly uncontrolled rage of the race to the spot....only to come in second, and yes, start the circling AGAIN! Now, cane in hand, there exists a special treat for those of us who are having trouble physically getting around: preferred parking. How nice of everyone else to be so considerate whether they want to, or not.
Number 4: Never Miss A Game. Even the days that I can hardly get out of bed, I can still find some kind of game to watch on TV. Football, Baseball, Basketball, Tennis, Men's Golf, Women's Golf, Pro Bowling, Track, Swimming, Curling, Ping Pong.... you name it and we, as sports crazed Americans, have it on the tube. Sometimes I wonder "How can they put so many sports programs on?" Are there really that many people like me laying around watching this stuff? How much money does "Budweiser" have to sponsor hundreds of events on dozens of channels? Is Curling really a sport? It hurts my poor chemo-brain to ponder such a complex cultural institution.
Number 5: The Feeling of Royalty. Back in the health days, Lisa and I were able to make a couple of trips to Las Vegas, usually with Kelly and Bill, our daughter and son-in-law. It was nice to have such attentive Hotel Clerks, Restaurant Employees, Bar Tenders, Hookers (whoops, how did that get in there...chemo-brain?) Although I do believe that all four of us were approached by "Entertainment Specialists". Maybe they just sang and danced! Anyways, where in the world am I heading with that? ....I'm not. Back to being treated like royalty. Las Vegas is nothing compared to the treatment you get, not only from the wonderful Doctors, Nurses, Medical Technicians, and family. you even get it from the most casual acquaintances, when they know your medical condition. Showing love and compassion even without the expected tip like in Las Vegas. There is nothing better than knowing that people are treating you so nice because they truly care. The Queen of England can't top that!
Number 6: The last for now, but certainly not least, A Continued Loving Relationship with God. I'm not going to thump a Bible at you. An old sinner like me hardly has the answers to age long questions on faith, however, I do know what I have had for years. In good times, God was always with me, protecting me, letting me learn from my mistakes, and always loving me. Now, that I am sick, he holds me, and blesses me everyday, more and more. Renewing old friendships, adventures with Lisa, loving family and friends, you reading this right now.....what tremendous blessings!
With these six you can see why I say that there are "benefits" to having cancer. There's more that I will share later, as this could go on to only be "out paged" by Moby Dick. I hope that you never get the chance to experience them....I'm selfish. That's it for now, I will leave you with the wise words from Mark Twain; "The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated". This applies to all of us...be sure to LIVE today don't just wander through it. Yep, I'm still here and thanks for reading!
Loving Life and Fighting Cancer,
Be sure to visit the American Cancer Society at http://www.cancer.org/
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