As a fifty-seven year old male who at times thinks he is thirty, recently realized I’ve been here for a half century. This is in part because I don’t get to see the fullness of me, the whole physical picture that others see. Of course I get glimpses in the mirror, but never the full picture that others see.
It is like anyone else who looks in the mirror and sees himself or herself as the person they want to be and have watched getting older, but never really see the gray hair or the wrinkle in the back of the neck that others see. When we watch something we love getting older, most times we remember how it was when it was new, but others see the aged and weather worn object we covet.
Some people grow older and complain of aches and pains without doing anything to keep their bodies in good shape, not me. I work out at Crossfit five times a week. On a good week I can go six times. I have recently lost forty five pounds and I can keep up with the younger thirty something’s at the gym so I guess I felt I was in as great a shape as they are. I may have been in better shape then some.
Sometime in early 2016 I noticed blood in my urine. Actually I noticed it four times in a five-month period. I was thinking it was probably a kidney stone. By the fourth time I figured I should get this checked out.
A friend of mine told me that blood in his urine was what led him to find out he had bladder cancer. I did not want to think it would be anything as serious as that, but I went to the doctor to get checked out and sure enough I was informed on September 1st, 2016 I had bladder cancer. I am not sure who was more confused the doctor or myself. The doctor hmm’d and haa’d and spoke in medical terms that only confused me more. He started with all this technical jargon initially stating he did not know enough to call it “that” he did not want to use the c-word. He droned on saying it was too early to say blah blah blah.
Meanwhile I am thinking, what if it is cancer? Oh my goodness! I thought about whom I had to tell. I wondered who would get my things. My brother would get my dog, I knew he would commit because he kept his dog for sixteen years. Really. Here I was learning I had cancer after having to convince the doctor I was strong enough to handle the news. I was already planning my exit.
I was trying to figure out how I would deal with buying depends without embarrassment. I figured my wardrobe would have to be all black pants in case I had an accident. I was feeling the need to shield the world from my sickness. I was worried about having to wear a catheter once I got out of surgery.
How would I go to the gym with a bag of urine strapped to my leg? Who was I going to tell? Who needed to know about my demise? I’ve always been healthy and was not prepared for a health crisis. Then I thought is this really a crisis? People pull though cancer all the time now. Besides Bladder cancer is treatable.
So this was not a death sentence. People get through it all the time. But then I thought about complications. What if I was to lose my bladder and prostate? What if they have to make a new one from my colon? What about side effects? What about E.D.? I wondered if I should go out and get my swerve on before the dysfunction.
I thought about what I would do if I were going to die. How do you prepare for something like that? I am single with no heirs. All I’ve got are a few trinkets, a big screen TV, car, dog and a condo (all paid for I may add). So I guess this leads me to putting things in order just in case. I also realized that I still have much to offer and how do I maximize my effectiveness to others with the time I have left?
But I’m realizing I still have so much to offer so much to do. Funny how at one minute I was closing out accounts and the next I was trying to help others. I looked at both sides of the cancer coin and flipped it to the positive side. I decided to get through this. Cancer could kill me. I know many more people who have beaten cancer. Yes I was going to live. I showed up at the hospital on September twenty sixth for my surgery. The surgeons did what they needed to do and that was that.
All I was worried about was that catheter and that bag. More of and inconvenience that anything else. A luxury problem if was to compare my self to others. I only had to wear the bag for that first day if I could pee on my own once it was out. Bravo! And I did! I must have peed twenty times that day. I drank plenty of water and over time my flow became normal.
When I first got the news I decided to only share this with my family, my sponsor and a couple of friends. That was enough. Once I knew that I was going to be okay after the surgery, I posted my situation on Facebook. I was blown away by the response I got from friends and family and FB friends. I was able to see how much I was loved and cared about.
The thoughts and prayers and well wishing were humbling. People took the time to say kind words and offer to help me during my time of need. Getting help from others remains a challenge for me. Faith tells me that I’m going to be all right no matter what. When you do good you get good. As long as you are willing to look at yourself and be open to change. One thing I will change is to appreciate all that I have.
Cancer has given me new energy. Part of my follow up is to get six weekly treatments, which I have done. I’ve renewed my commitment to my recovery and step work. Along time ago I they would say “Faith moves mountains, but bring a shovel” and I lived by that for a long time. I’m realizing now that “Faith moves mountains” and all I have to do is let things happen. I can keep the shovel in my tool kit just in case, but with my the faith I have I rarely need it.