Monday, April 15, 2013
“Hey Dude- Look – I got to go back to the doctor in three days- he said I got a lump or a spot of some shit they want to check out.” That simple run on sentence was the first I became aware that my friend and coworker had cancer. Looking back I would have stopped what I was doing in my tracks, grabbed his hand and drug him to the doctor and demanded they do whatever tests they had right then, right dammit now. Because you see, this cancer moves fast, and hard, and the difference in a few days now seems like years before. That was only 6 weeks ago – so short – but so long. In the while I have seen him endure radiation treatments, blood clots, weight loss, fatigue – and he has not even had to face the chemotherapy yet. He cannot eat – he drinks his food. He was such a wildly vibrant personality before – never able to sit still; always he fidgeted and moved, and laughed and cut up and made noise – now quiet, reserved and and often brooding. He tries to keep the positive side; his smile is still infectious and I love being around him. His enthusiasm for his career is blunted only by the invasive growth from his own body attacking itself; he wants to work at a time when it seems many others would rather not. But I cannot put him through it; his doctors cannot allow it; his body will not abide it. And his body – already rail thin and corded muscle when healthy – now wasting away; his face is thinning; his shirts that were form fitting before now billow and shimmy and hang from his shoulders. He does not mention it but I see his pants look new – and the belt it cinched tight. I can count the pounds as they have fallen off of him. What an evil little trick this cancer is. We hear all the warnings; the food and lifestyle dangers; the environmental impacts; and …. We often times do nothing. Is cancer the “Guilty” sentence for not taking care of the Body Temple? Or is it the “out-of-bounds”, the maverick roll of life’s dice, which no man can bet on because the odds change with each toss? Does every life have a set course – are Fate and Cancer bedfellows that cannot be separated? Do we even really want to know? I am not so sure I do. Really, not at all. Because heeding the warnings and answering the calls for some folks is nothing more than a healthy prelude to cancer none the less. Where is the cause and effect if Fate is so fickle? I have no idea. I have no off the hip pseudo-philosophy. I am no child and I am not in some story where I can open up a magic book or rub an enchanted lamp and wish him better. I do not cling to any of the Old religions – nor any of the new ones for that matter – I do not have any connections to a higher power to whom I would appeal. But I do have one thing: I have my friend; and I know it will not be for long. And I have to make sure that while I do not mourn him before he is gone, I do recognize that every moment I get to spend with him could simply be the last good day he has. And that makes me feel guilty. Guilty for admitting he will die. Guilty for being healthier – if not healthy, but not the one who is sick. Guilty for going home and knowing that I do not have a mass of rebel cells in my body intent of growing at the cost of whatever organ they feed upon. Guilty – because I am not the one who is dying – and while I see how sick he is getting, he sees me – not sick.