Tell Me Your Story #2
November 8, 2013
As a cancer patient (Stage IV salivary gland, which had spread), I have enjoyed browsing your blog. I am also an author, of seven books, and my most recent is an often humorous, generally positive look at some of the experiences of life under chemo, That’s So Funny, My Hair Fell Out (Bellissima Publishing, Calif.)….
The Wayward Golf Ball
Like so many things in my life, this all started with a story that I told my youngest nephews and nieces. Years ago, below and in front of my left ear I had developed a rounded lump about the size of a half golf ball. It did not hurt, and my long hair partly concealed it. An ear-and-throat specialist, seeing me on an unrelated matter, advised me that the lump was no major cause for concern, but that he could surgically remove it for a few thousand bucks. However, being a poor writer, those few times that I had such an amount, I needed it for a trip to Mexico.
Kids being kids—dwarflike cretins who will inform you plainly whether your breath reeks or your wart looks like a mushroom—my nephews and nieces would eventually poke and ask what the heck that freaky lump was.
Returning honesty for honesty I told them that, on a dare (which impressed the young daredevils), I had once tried to swallow a golf ball, and that it had then become stuck between my lower jaw and my cheek. Thus, the Legend of the Wayward Golf Ball emerged and grew somewhat faster than the lump itself.
That satisfied if not awed them; they soon started charging their friends admission to see, feel, and hear about the half-swallowed golf ball.
Years scurried past, and on me only my waistline grew—until recently. Then, the golf ball, er lump, grew in size and became somewhat sore and tender. This led me to a doctor and then an MRI. That led me to the world class cancer facility, the Arthur G. James Cancer Center (aka, “The James”), the centerpiece of the enormous medical complex of my alma mater, The Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio.
Alas, a biopsy revealed what I had already guessed—that was no common golf ball under my ear! No, indeed—it was a malignant golf ball! (Or, always honest with them, that was what I told my nephews and nieces.)
It seems I had developed Stage IV salivary gland cancer—a particularly devious and aggressive type. It was soon surgically removed, but we then found out that some of it had travelled uninvited to my lungs. Thus, I started chemotherapy bombardments, I mean treatments.
What happened during and after that? This little book happened, for one thing. I am a writer and a fighter: what better way to battle a despised foe than to laugh in its face while doing so? Yes, I lost my hair, lost my appetite, suffered insufferable nausea, and experienced constipation and diarrhea (on the same day once) as well as impotence, mental confusion and depression. Yes, but I let none of these hold me down, and I had a lot of fun all the while. I had found it easy to make merry with cancer, its treatment, and all that goes with it. As for what happened besides that—read on!
Finally, if you attempt to take any message from all of this, take this one: do not attempt to swallow any golf balls; if you do, and it gets stuck, get help immediately! At least, that’s what my nephews and nieces now tell their friends…
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