Late in the evening of March 29th of 2008, I was admitted to the OHSU Emergency Room for very serious rectal bleeding. As it happened, I'd had a hematocrit test that morning, so we were later able to establish that I'd lost 25% of my blood volume in an 18-hour period. I collapsed inside the ER with blood pressure too low to measure. Various urgent medical procedures ensued. On March 30th, I was diagnosed with colon cancer, Tubulovillous adenocarcinoma with suspected lymphatic involvement.
I immediately made a decision to go very public with this. Some of that is just symptomatic of my pathological extroversion, but more of it was due to the secretive and shameful nature of cancer. In some very real senses, "cancer" is the last dirty word. I blogged all through the process of diagnosis, treatment and recovery. I talked about the funny bits, the stupid bits, the painful bits, the emotionally damaging bits, and the hopeful bits. See here for the history: [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ]
Because it shouldn't be a secret. Because far more people than you and I will ever realize have gone through these experiences. Maybe the gal in the cube next to yours at work. Maybe a friend who never mentioned his prostate cancer from fifteen years ago before you knew him. Your boss, your pastor, your grocery store clerk. And while everyone has the absolute right to as much privacy as they wish, no one should be forced to make this journey alone.
My cancer so far has been an amazing gift, filled with hope and benefit and growth for me and many people around me. After these next round of tests on 5/14 and 5/15, I'll be as close to clear as I can be before the five-year survival clock is run out successfully. My story came out well, despite the Fear and the pain.
Not everyone's does.
So I talk about it, because I can. It's my personality, and I have a platform to reach many eyes and ears. Because maybe in talking about it, I can lend courage to other people. Maybe in talking about it I can grant understanding to other people. Maybe in talking about it I can make others' experiences a little better. Maybe in talking about it, I can steal cancer's power away, and give it to everyone who desperately needs a piece of that power for themselves.
And ultimately, talking about is what takes away my own Fear, lets me love the_child and calendula_witch and everyone else in my life as fiercely and as powerfully as I do.
Thank you for listening.
|Originally published at jlake.com.|