So, I looked at the calendar and realized it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. After some discussion around the boardroom table, we here at The Band have decided that that's a little too specific for us. Now, don't get me wrong, I like breasts, and I prefer them cancer-free; I just think that as one of about a billion different kinds of cancer, it's already gotten about more good PR than anyone but R. Kelly and Kanye.
Therefore, I have an announcement:
Here at Band Back Together, October is Cancer Awareness Month. Give us your leukemia, your lymphoma and your carcinoma. If you've saved your own Ta-Tas, give us that too, just don't be shy if yours was skin, blood, bone or otherwise. We're here to remove stigma, and I say it's high time we kicked cancer in the taco, too. Because Cancer is bullshit.
I've never had cancer myself, and my family history is reasonably clean, for which I'm very grateful. My experience with cancer was actually kind of a sideways one. I was married a few years back to a
wonderful good woman while I was in Minnesota. While we were dating, we were in a hard place financially, and trying to figure out what we were going to do about it, and we got the call. Her grandfather had cancer.
She broke down and cried, which was slightly surprising, as that was never something that she was all that good at. I pulled the details out of her between bouts of emotion. Her grandfather had been diagnosed with stage four Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. His health hadn't been great for a little while, but it was getting worse lately and now we knew why. We talked about it with her grandparents, and agreed that we'd pick up and move from the city to a small town where they were living and come help out. They gave us a floor of the house for us and our child to live in, and we helped out around the house while he was to be going through treatment.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should probably point out that her grandfather and I didn't get along all that well most of the time to begin with. My experience with cancer was through him. I watched him go through radiation treatments, and I watched him go through round after round of chemotherapy. I watched it change him.
I watched him lose pound after pound, while he was unable to keep from vomiting anything that he ate. He wound up on a diet of Gatorade, Pedialyte and the occasional saltine cracker for months. He lost close to a hundred pounds over months. I watched him lose his hair, I watched him lose his skin tone and his energy. That sort of thing is pretty typical when you stop sleeping and have toxins pumped through you repeatedly. I watched it change him from a man who was largely quiet and reserved but generally kindly, to a man who would snap at the slightest provocation and who wanted nothing more than to be alone most of the time.
His five-year prognosis was less than 50%. He wound up in remission and had cancer found again the next year, and did it all over again. By the time the entire ordeal was over, he was tired, hurting and wanted to be done with it. He decided he'd rather live in some pain all the time than go through these treatments any more.
This was my experience with cancer. I watched it take a man I respected, and whose respect I craved, and kill him. He still walked, talked and breathed, but he was reshaped by it forever. Cancer killed him, and he survived the experience by years. I always through he was too tough to die to it, but it turned out that he was just too tough to let go.