What comes after the blues

In lieu of the mildly bad news of last Monday, there is one thing for certain — one of the central ideas of life that my father taught me by example: no matter how unfair, or seemingly challenging life may get, it goes on. And it’s the going on part that has stumped me since the beginning of my cancer journey. (When I arrived home from the doctor visit where I learned that I probably had testicular cancer, I did not expect Dawn to arrive for another hour or two. I thought I would sit on the couch and stare at the wall for a while, trying to imagine how I would share the news with her — trying to imagine what such a diagnosis really meant. But, as fate would have it, Dawn had an early day that she had not expected. As I turned the key in the back door, she was turning the key in the front door, and we ran into each other in the kitchen. She had a big, beautiful smile on her face, pleased that her day was short, and that we both arrived home and could spend some together. “Hi Honey!” she said in that way she does when she’s really pleased with life — like she is twelve again and romping around her parent’s property in the summer light. But life hadn’t given me any time to think that day, and I broke down when I saw that smile. She took me in her arms, and we used each other’s shoulders as tissue. The rest is, as they say…) Where was I? Oh yes, going on.

In some ways, I can’t help but wonder where this disease came from (which has a lot to do, I think, with the direction it’s pointed me in). In the back of my mind, I also can’t help but believe that the countless people who have read my blog and know me have wondered the same thing. Was it some residual effect of exposure to chemicals when I worked in photo labs (like Charlene’s brain tumor might’ve been), or all of the toxic air I’ve breathed as a scenic carpenter, building things for the theater with all sorts of adhesives and foams, treated woods, and metals? Have I not been eating the right foods (I was a strict ovo-lacto vegetarian for eleven years, and now eat meat and seafood sparingly–though vegetarians are supposed to have drastically reduced rates of cancer)? Has it been my less than stellar exercise routine? Or was it in my mind? My emotional state? The anger and stress of life building up inside me, and finally breaking down my inner defenses enough to let the cancer in? Oh, why obsess over these things, you may think, but these things matter for the future, I think. How many radical steps am I prepared to take to ensure lifelong health, so that neither I, my wife, or any of you have to go through this shit again? There are at least a couple of things that I feel I must do: first, concentrate more heavily on my diet, being sure to eat right, and eat well. But what does that mean, exactly? So many of you have your opinions, to be sure, as do I and, well, everybody. But even the experts don’t always agree, which leaves me eating pretty much like I did before the diagnosis. I think I have been a fairly concientious eater in my adult life, trying to balance my health with my concern for the larger issues that surround food and its origins. Second, I need to begin a real exercise routine. The emphasis here is on routine. My lungs, for instance, have been unquestionably damanged by the Bleomycine, one of the three chemo drugs that was pumped into me for over two months. It has left a thin layer of scar tissue on my lungs, and the only way to combat that is to exercise, and get my lungs back into shape (even shoveling snow in the drive this morning was enough to start me panting like a dog).

And so, as I await the medical word on my health, I have begun to realize that I can no longer wait for the next test or the next treatment — the next opinion or dreaded consultation — to take steps forward with life. I have to move on, even if the cancer hasn’t. Perhaps by doing so, the cancer will get the idea and pack its bags too.

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One Response to “What comes after the blues”

  1. An exercise routine and a healthy diet sure can’t hurt. I would suggest you start with a routine daily walk. Not only will this be an manageable start for your lungs, walking is just so good for you and it’s a good way to clear your head, or in your case, to compose your next blog! For diet ideas you might like to read “Health Revolution” by Ross Horne, published by Happy Landings. I read it back in the late ’80s early ’90s and found it to be very interesting. However, I don’t see you as an unhealthy eater.

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