John and Marcus Cannon – John’s the smaller guy, on the right
Ahoy, my friends. In the immortal words of Steve McQueen, “Hey you bastards, I’m still here.”
What are we on, installment 8? It’s been a while. The thickening haze of “chemo fog” has begun to impede my literary habits. Also, I was a bit frisky in my physical escapades and somehow pulled a muscle. Did you know the walls of your intestines are muscles? Mmmmboy was that a long and sleepless couple of weeks.
I have thus far made it through eight bouts of treatment. Let me tell you: good times. I have shown what the doctors call “mixed results”. Some tumors have grown larger, some have disappeared. They say I’m showing “high tolerance” of the treatment, which means that despite perpetual heartburn, the bleeding gums, the night sweats and the barfs, chemo isn’t killing me outright. So that’s nice. I’ll finish up these last four treatments and see where I’m at come February. If the doctors had their druthers, I would take a few weeks rest and then start this bologna all over again, so on and so forth until I inevitably perish. I guess that’s one way to go about it.
I’m not really sold on that approach. The chemo doesn’t seem to have an impressive effect on the cancer. It continuously degrades my body’s immune system. It costs tens of thousands of dollars. It feels like hell. Is that really how I want to live the rest of my life, to be saturating my body with toxic chemicals, playing medical whack-a-mole with the symptoms and chasing a mountain of side-effects with still more pills?
Obviously, I’m not a doctor. This is my first time having cancer, so I may well indeed be full of bad ideas. But poison doesn’t feel like medicine. And it certainly fails to address the source of my cancer. The doctors know it won’t cure me. They sadly shake their heads and say, “it’s the best we can do.”
Well I ain’t buying it. I don’t think flooding my veins with toxins is what my body wants. I feel this disease stems more from an imbalance between the mind, body and spirit. (Sorry if that sounds too new age for you. Go get some cancer and we’ll talk.) Strange as this may sound, it doesn’t feel like an evil entity. It doesn’t seem some invading army hell-bent on my demise. This cancer is a growth of my own body, spurred on by an internal upheaval of my own design. The common and constant vernacular of violence (“Kick its ass! Smash it!”) is so pervasive, but doesn’t seem to serve anyone well. I get the idea of the fighting spirit, but should I wish this violence upon my own body? Is that worth the constant angst that roils my mind? Why focus on illness instead of health?
Following that line of thought, maybe the “point” of this whole ordeal isn’t to survive. That’s not a surrender, that’s not giving up. However, an important part of facing this situation is accepting that death may be the end result. It may be completely out of my control, and that’s okay. Right now my focus is on enjoying every moment I have with you fools. It brings me such sincere joy to be out on the streets of Portland, Maine and in the company of such incredible people. The live music in this town might cure me alone. To all fantastic folks out west, I’ll see you soon. I want as much good to come from this ridiculous situation as possible. To impart even a fraction of the magic that I feel for being alive right now would be enough.
This existence is a whirlwind carnival, but the obvious and important fact is that we’re all in it together. We are all on this grassy little marble hurtling through the depths of space in spite of all odds against us. We live these quick, high-wheeling lives bound up inside the balloons of our bodies, flown from an unseen string the other end of which may or may not be held by a magnanimous all-knowing eternal soul. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. But if I was, my order would be to take care of one another. And to travel.
Speaking of which, I’ll probably be making some impulsive decisions come February. Some of you will freak out. Just be cool.
We cool? Cool.