Friday, May 20, 2011

Top Ten: The Cool Side of Cancer (for me)

I'm not sure why but I just got the inspiration to do this. Just call me David Eric Letterman.

#1 I got "The Cancer Card"
Having lost my man card on weekly basis, never having been given a race card, and having found normal decks of cards largely useless to me, the cancer card was a wonderful gift to keep in my pocket for emergency situations. 

#2 Chicks dig scars
Yup, thanks to cancer, I got a pretty wicked one right on my hand. I'm pretty sure my wife now loves me at least 238% more than she did before I got it so I count that as a win. A good portion of cancers seem to require some sort of surgery which means, to some extent, you're getting a sweet fleshy souvenir for your troubles.

#3 Association with fighting
Who doesn't like sounding tough? Cancer is a cruel mistress and you do have to fight it and makes you, yup, a fighter! How cool is that? Very.

#4 Association with surviving
Surviving is equally as cool because you freakin' survived. I'm not sure if you knew this but cancer kills so escaping that is kinda a big deal.

#5 You get incentive to get busy livin'
Granted, if you're a little shy and your extreme sports budget is low, or if you don't want to jump from the cancer train right onto the diabetes train with overindulgence you might get a slow start but still.... talk about a jolt of adrenaline! Who knows if that sneaky crap will come back or get ya? While you can you want to live and do it well. That's a plus in my book. Just watch out for procrastinitis...

#6 You can make up fun stories when people ask you about your scar
You can lead them down intricate fabrications that sound awesome and then when you break the truth to them at the end, the story is still awesome! Very fun with people you've just met or kids. :-D

#7 Getting to have regular checkup appointments makes you sound important
Sorry, I'm going to be out of town for an appointment... That's almost like having a private jet or helicopter to head out to investor meetings or project inspections. That's big league son!

#8 Everything that people say might give you cancer scares you a little less
Pfff, been there done that. What's that? coffee might give me cancer? Sun? Sunscreen lotion? Cell phones? Water bottles? Smiling babies? The cure for cancer might give me cancer? Whatever, just throw it in the corner with my other cancer. Pansies...  I know this crap.
Ok, in reality you might be more aware and take some precaution, but the mystique is pretty diminished.

#9 Veterans and war stories
Ever seen Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers? Have a relative that has war buddies? That's a pretty cool bond and you get something in the same family when it comes to the battle with cancer. You get a whole community that better understands the nutty medical terminology, knows why margins are so important, and is also largely numbed to the sticker shock of medical bills. Shoot, we even share similar injuries with actual soldiers and the main difference is that the people that took our body parts were probably not actually trying to kill us.
By the way, thank you service men and women for the very difficult tasks you do for us everyday!

#10 You get to see who has mushy feelings for you
Yeah, this could go both ways. Eww, gross, emotions and junk... But still, beyond the embarrassment of being cared for it is pretty amazing to see people come out of the woodwork to support you or let you know they at least empathize with a difficult situation. It's actually pretty huge to get good support so if you know someone who's been diagnoses, give 'em some love!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cancer gave me a metronome.

...or at least heavily subsidized it.

Don't get me wrong, I still think cancer is still a heck of a jerk, but at least it seems to be trying to make amends. A week or so ago, my friend/neighbor/fellow cancer survivor and thrive-er Roger and I went to a Live Strong focus group that was aimed at finding out what the needs of the young adult cancer community are. As a thank-you for our time, we got a gift card. Now, thanks to that thank-you, I'm the proud owner of a combination tuner/metronome which will help out especially with all the non-free-jazz I'm playing these days.

Upon second thought, it wasn't actually cancer that gave me that tool it was the nice folks at the University of Texas and LiveStrong. Stupid cancer...

I suppose if I wanted to get philosophical about this it would be possible...
Getting cancer acted as a sort of indicator of mortality and set an updated rhythm for my life. It hurried up the pace of things in it's own way. I now have scheduled checkups in regular intervals, much like a beat, it can tell me to hurry up or slow down depending on what happens, and it is sort of always beeping in my head any time I look at my hand or feel something odd there. Yes, cancer and this metronome thing do go hand in hand, pun intended (although seriously, I don't need any more hand cancer).

The scar is looking really good and depending on how light hits it and how I'm holding it, you might not even see it. The only thing that is curious to me at the moment is when and whether the surgical clips are going to make their exit. There are 5 in there still and I wonder if they're contributing to the pains that occasionally present themselves. We'll see what happens but for now I'm just rubbing in some SPF15 moisturizer to both protect the scarred skin and perhaps grease up these clip's exit.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Operative Report

This is definitely coming a bit late in the game but I just found and read my operative report. Basically it is what it sounds like. It describes the patient, the reason for the operation, how they did the surgery, and what the results of it were. I have Roger to thank (yet again) for letting me know about that reports probable existence and I just found and read it. It's pretty cool to get the details of my procedure, even though my understanding of the terminology is not quite there. It really does get quite dense, and I'm not implying stupidity. Here's an excerpt...

Dissection now revealed the remaining attachments between the volar plate, the deep intervolar plate, the transverse metacarpal ligament and perosseous bands of the palmar fascia and proximal portion of the flexor tendon sheath. These attachments were then divided sharply and the amputated specimen was removed.

Ok, maybe it's just the terminology that make's it fly a little over my head but still, wow.  

Anyhow, among other things it did list the before and after diagnosis officially as "UNCLASSIFIED MESENCHYMAL NEOPLASM, FAVOR LOW GRADE SARCOMA", they also showed that I had minimal blood loss and no complications. Yay!

Interestingly enough, my receding hairline somehow got a mention in another report but otherwise they seem happy that I'm an alert and apparently healthy adult male. My wife is pretty happy about that too. :)