This is the first time since my initial diagnosis on 6/8/2010 that I've gone 12 months without a relapse. My doctors all told me BEP chemo would be curative, but it's hard to take their word for it when cancer kept coming back from other supposedly curative treatments. The doc called Tuesday night to tell me the good news, and I went into his office on Wednesday to have my blood tested. No word on the blood tests yet, but my cancer has never showed up in my blood so I don't have any real fears about blood-work like I do CT scans.
I'm now on a 6 month CT scan schedule for a couple of years, so I have another one of these anxiety fits in December.
Switching gears here the search function on the blog and google says I haven't written about this next part before, although I thought I had. If this is a repeat, skip it. Also, bad words coming up.
As I mentioned I was initially diagnosed on 6/8/2010, but knew it was likely cancer for several weeks before that. As soon as I felt the lump on my testicle I started searching online, of course. The urology office I ended up going to had some info on their website (which I'm too lazy to look up) but they had a stat there that said something like "a lump on the testicle is cancerous 93% of the time."
I'd noticed the lump sometime in April, waited a week or so before telling Julie, and then in early May called the Urologists office to schedule an appointment. For lots of reasons not worth going into, it made sense to wait until June for the appointment.
God it takes me forever to tell a story. I'd be yelling at my wife if she were telling it this way. Anyway, on 6/8/10 when I went to work, Julie was home really sick. Like flu/cold sick. I had my appointment with the doctor in the late morning, and although sick Julie did say "good luck at the doctors." I had not told her of my research, so Julie really didn't think this would be anything major.
When I saw the doctor for the the first time we hit it off immediately. So the doc and I are talking men's fashion, sports, etc. Finally he asks why I'm there, I explain the lump, he has me drop my pants, and then says something like "this is the worst dude to dude news that there is, but I'm almost 100% that's cancer."
He tells me some reassuring things (curable, tough road ahead but you'll survive, etc.) and then has to leave the room to start setting up appointments for me that day to have tests run to confirm his diagnosis.
So I yank out my cell and call Julie's. Voicemail.
I dial her cell again. Voicemail.
I call our home phone (remember Julie's sick in bed, about 11 am right now). We have one of those old style answering machines where you can hear the person leaving a message if you are in the house.
Home phone goes to voicemail, and I leave the following message: "ANSWER THE FUCKING PHONE!"
I call her cell phone again. An annoyed, sleepy voice answers "wwhhaattt? I'm sick and trying to sleep"
Slight digression: Thank god you can't reach through the phone and slap someone.
I tell Julie, in my own annoyed, slightly panicking voice "I have cancer."
It went on a bit from there because what I said didn't penetrate her sickness for a few seconds, but when it did sink in Julie's protective mother-bear instincts took over and it was all I could do to stop her from hanging up and booking me a room at Sloan-Kettering.
But the point of my reliving that story, which I've probably told 1,000 times, is that I kept that "ANSWER THE FUCKING PHONE!" message on the answering machine for the last three years. I would play it occasionally, sometimes in jest, sometimes when I was feeling down, when I had my relapse(s), when we had guests over and I'd had too much to drink, etc.
Folks I deleted the message.
Funny as it was (reading it doesn't do it justice, it was like I spelled out every syllable and spoke as slowly and sternly as possible; like a parent in a public setting trying to express to their misbehaving child shit is about to get real), it was also something of a... crutch? bad luck charm? Not sure what to call it or why it went from funny to sad for me, but it did. I just knew it was time to delete the message and let it go. I should also note I deleted it a little while ago, not after this most recent CT scan, so that wasn't the trigger. I just kept meaning to write about it and (as far as I can tell) never did.
Cancer may or may not be out of my life forever, I know deleting the message won't have any impact on that. But I also can't continue to live the past. Cancer will certainly be part of my life going forward, there will always be the before cancer years and the after cancer years. And I'm not shy about cancer, I'll talk about it with anyone who is interested and will probably think about it every day for the rest of my life.
I don't know why that message, which I honestly thought I might have forever. If I could have figured out how to make that my ringtone I probably would have done it*. But strange as this might sound that message started to feel oppressive to me.
*actually I just now had this thought and I'm kicking myself a little for not thinking of it BEFORE I deleted that message. That might have been the worlds greatest ringtone, which instead is held by my wife. Her ringtone is a recording I made which repeats over and over "Julie, this is your phone. Julie this is your phone, ANSWER ME!" She's a lucky lady.