Normal? Not Exactly

Not much about my life has been normal over the last few months. But it has reached a point of stability, after a period of really shocking changes. To recap, in early April, following several weeks of strange goings on, I learned I was the host of a rather large brain tumor and a nasty case of non-Hodgkins CNS lymphoma, a cancer that attacks blood cells. That led to a long hospitalization and my first experience with chemotherapy drugs, which caused hallucinations, paranoia, and at least one attempt to ‘escape’ the hospital against medical advice. I’m pleased to report that my most recent chemotherapy session was much smoother, and I no longer fear that I’ve been kidnapped by an evil conspiracy of nurses.
Nonetheless, chemo is tough on a body. It doesn’t look the same, feel the same, respond or perform the same way as a healthy body. Even after nearly four months, I wake up in the morning expecting to lead the active life I led before, and it just isn’t going to happen anytime soon. I’ve grown fat and bald (although when I look around, it seems a lot of guys my age have grown fat and bald without the help of a major disease).
Mentally I’ve reached a certain kind of acceptance of the situation. I’ve done the research, I know as much as anyone can about the disease, the treatments, the odds, my prospects for the future. It’s still a struggle, but the initial shock, grief and anger have given way to a determination to fight as hard as I can and hope for the best.
One thing I’ve learned, or at least become much more aware of, is that lots of people out there have it worse than me, suffering from diseases that in one aspect or another dwarf my own problems. I’ve developed great empathy for people who live with chronic conditions more difficult, painful, and likely fatal than my own. It’s inspiring to me that people are able to overcome so much.

The second thing I’ve learned is how incredibly lucky I am to have an amazing, remarkably generous network of friends and relatives all across the country who have simply overwhelmed me with their support.  I only hope that someday I’ll have the chance to give back a little bit of the support I’ve received.

That’s all for now, thanks to all who’ve visited the site and given so much.  It is greatly appreciated.

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4 Responses to Normal? Not Exactly

  1. Karen Smyczek says:

    Very insightful, Christopher. Fat, bald, or otherwise, we will love and support you. Hang in there, thank Sayer every day, and keep fighting!

  2. julie says:

    Thanks cousin! Always great to have a reminder of how fragile and precious life is and that we need to enjoy it and we can’t sweat the small stuff. Though, it still infuriates me when my co-workers leave their dirty dishes in the sink at work. Grr and GRoss! XOXO -Julie

  3. Beat Friend,

    I saw photos of the recent hike. Not sure that I could do that without cancer and chemo, so it seems that you’re feeling better, at least to some extent. Say hello to Sayer and Gromit and continue maintaining the healthy optimism. And remember the great American philosopher who once said that “normal is as normal does.”

    Best Friend

  4. Howard Mahoney says:

    I’m really diggin’ fat bald Smeech. Keep on top of it. Love ya man.

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