At approximately 1:33 pm on September 10th, 2008, I walked out of a cancer treatment facility for the last time. That was ten years and one hour ago.
It. Felt. Fucking. Great.
I was 28, and had just 4 finished months of aggressive chemotherapy, and 11 surgeries to remove tumors from the joints in my right leg. I am often reminded of it when I am applying lotion or drying off after a shower. The scar is a subtle reminder of a time I often try to forget.
Before I got started with chemo,I tried to adhere to some rules another patient had passed on.
4. bring reading material
3. take care of yourself
2. don’t be rude to anyone in this room
The main one was:
1. Don’t get too attached to anyone in here, because tomorrow they could be gone.
That’s ominously important to the story, because I tend to not listen to rules most of the time.
A mere three months after my final treatment, I got the thumbs up. That all my scans were clear. Best Christmas present ever. It was December 17th. I, as one would expect, was overjoyed. In the nearly 4 months of chemo, I had lost nearly 65 pounds. I was rail thin, had a job I didn’t miss a day of, somehow made it to my 10 year reunion, and a wonderful son to care for.
I was very happy.
Then, just over a month later, in January 2009, my brother was murdered.
The high that I experienced of escaping death at the time, was gone. It was a distant thought. At the time, I had gained about 50 of the 65 pounds back between September 2008 and January 2009. I had one of those newfound leases on life that you hear so much about. I had decided to go after my main dream, become a screenwriter/director. Life was not going to get the best of me, without pursuing my dreams. I knew how close I’d come to giving in, and not moving forward with life, so I set a plan in motion to chase my dreams.
Only, in January 2009, they sort of took another step back.
Now, I won’t go into details, because I’ve done it before, but his death set off a string of deaths that kind of had me thinking about death for a long time. I was at my lowest point. Which, only got lower. In sequential years, I lost 3 people I cared about.
– my brother, Mario. (2009)
– Diana from my cancer treatment room (2010)
– my Mom (2011)
All of those deaths kind of led me to where I’m at currently.
I think about death all the time.
Not in the “oh I’m ready for the sweet release of death” kind of way. This is not a cry for help. It’s just an expression of what I’m thinking. I want to live a long life, with my family, and accomplish my dreams. I think about it in the “I have to accomplish my dreams before I take my final breath.”
You see, I often think about death, because I wonder if I were to die in the near future:
What kind of legacy would I be leaving behind for my family. My friends.
Would I be remembered?
Did I accomplish my goals?
Was I a good person?
I think about those things a lot. I try to be good and kind to others, even if I’m sometimes an asshole. Overall, I try. I think about it when I am short with my kids, or when someone asks me to do something, and I don’t want to do it.
As of today, I have not accomplished my main goals in life. I think I’m getting closer, but as of now, I have not. I get up everyday and work toward my main goal.
Now, as I alluded to earlier, i didn’t listen to rule number one.
I have a problem with rules.
Especially when someone tells me what to do. I’m a grown ass man. It didn’t take long for me to make a friend during my treatment. I befriended an older woman. Diana, 55. A mother of two, who was as sweet as pie to me.
I will say this, and honestly it’s probably one of my only regrets in life, however, I chose to go through chemo alone.
No parents, no friends, nothing. I didn’t want to burden them with my well being. I didn’t want people to pity me. I didn’t want any of that. There are times when I wish I could take it back, because that was hell.
That’s where Diana came in. She was going through some of the same things I was going through. I’ll be honest, she also brought me edibles because it helped us to eat and not be nauseous all the time. She made some kick ass weed brownies.
She was a friend. One, in the short time I knew her, I grew to love instantly. Like a second mother. Of all the funniest things that has ever happened to me, she has one of the top 10 spots. She, when I lost what hair I had, signed my head like a baseball player does with a baseball.
Jokes on her, I went to work like that two days in a row.
I got to know her well. Diana told me while during treatment that she did not feel she was a good person. She was estranged from her two children, over minute things. She was an older woman, about 55, and we talked frequently. Even outside of the treatment. She eventually, before her death, made up with her children, and tried to right some wrongs in her life. To me, she was a good person for the year plus that I knew her.
As far as my mother and brother, well after they both died, so did the rest of my family. Their deaths fractured and eventually broke the 5 of us. We were never quite the same after my brother died, and after my mother died, well the rest of us kind of went on our separate ways.
I’m glad I’m still here. I have a wonderful family that I continue to build memories with every day, and friends that I’ve come to love as family.
I guess I bring this up now because just seeing a lot of people die that I’ve grown to admire and love over the years, is kind of jarring. It makes me think about my own mortality and what path I’m on in life, til my dash is complete.
Also, I’m doing a giveaway. It’s this week. Here’s what you have to do:
- Follow the blog
- Like a blog post
- Comment on the blog
Anyone that follows or likes a post here on my blog, is automatically entered for one of three giveaways. It will be something I make from my woodworking shop.
The giveaway will be for a hanging farmhouse shelf with a place for keys, and mail.