One morning in November, 2010, about a week before Thanksgiving I woke up not feeling great. Not bad, just not my usual self. After showering, and while shaving I noticed my eyes were puffy, swollen, and red. The right one even more so.
My nose was running, so I took a couple of Sudafeds and went to work. As the day went on I felt the "allergy" was being controlled by the Sudafed. The bags under my eyes were no longer satchels. Just looked like I had a terrible hangover.
Next morning, Saturday, Same thing. Really big bags, more Sudafed. Satchels eventually becoming mere bags. Big bags, but not extreme.
Little sisters can be persuasive. Mine can. Leslie came by mid afternoon and made me go to the emergency room. I didn't want to, but little sisters can't be reasoned with.
Lying on a gurney in the emergency room, with a blood pressure reading that was sky high, my only real concern was why my face was so bloated. Leslie, as little sisters are wont to be, had many other concerns. I felt fine. She didn't care if I did feel fine, she knew I looked awful.
Many tests and a chest X-ray later, Leslie went on an inquiry quest. Do not get in her way when she demands information. It so happens that I had a hand-sized tumor on my right lung. Yep. As John Wayne put it, the "Big C".
I was admitted, of course. Leslie in near hysterics, and me lying there on the gurney trying to calm her. I thought it odd at the time. Me, the "terminal patient" telling her that everything would be OK. I felt it then and still do now.
The next morning I met a really cute little pulmonologist. With great red heels. She told me she had to do a biopsy. Through my nose! Hey, she was really cute, great legs, and those cool red heels, she could do anything she wanted.
After the biopsy I was scheduled for immediate radiology, to reduce the tumor before Chemotherapy. After a couple of those I started a Chemotherapy regime. Three days in a row, three weeks apart. Thanks to Lee Child Chemotherapy was a snap. I read a lot.
I remember my Mom's bouts with chemotherapy. It left her violently ill, weak, and feeling really bad. Mine was not so severe. It left me weak, not ill, but at the end of the third day I would get hiccups. Hiccups that were unending for several days. You cannot go to sleep with hiccups. Just about the time I was ready to shoot myself the hiccups would end.
Well, it's been way over a year now. I've had four CT scans that show the previously hand sized tumor to be the size of my little fingernail. Scar tissue they call it. But it will be four more years before they call it cured.
Last Tuesday I met with my oncologist to review my latest CT scan. I asked him to imagine himself a betting man. Would he bet on me being taken out by getting hit by a bus, or by lung cancer. He laughed and said he would bet on the bus.