Tuesday, May 21, 2013

If Cancer Were a Man, I'd Kick His Ass

   In January I walked away from a promising job opportunity for something much more important, family. My cousin had fallen ill and needed some help running his business....immediately. Thus making my departure unique, yet unprofessional.
   I went to work the morning after my cousin called and asked for my help. I started the day like any other, unlocked the doors, shoveled the sidewalk, mopped the showroom, and coordinated deliveries and pick-ups with my co-workers. I shot a message to the owner regarding an important conversation we needed to have with one another. He showed up late morning after a meeting, and I dropped the bomb.
   I explained to him that my cousin had cancer and was in the fight for his life. I also explained that my cousin's wife was pregnant with their first child and his soon to be growing family needed my help. I thanked the owner for the job opportunity and apologized for my abrupt departure. After an awkward handshake and a couple of careless words of frustration from him, I was out the door. I started working for my cousin 30 hours later in the Grand Rapids area.
   Fortunately for all of us, my girlfriend was already commuting to Grand Rapids for med school. After only working for a week, we signed a lease and moved our family. This was to make life presumably easier on us all, but there was one thing for which I was not prepared to handle...chemotherapy.
   The overwhelming feeling of helplessness I had when I first saw him after a treatment cannot be explained. I could easily adjust to the new hours, learning how to deliver bread around greater Grand Rapids in an unreliable truck, shitty weather, having a new home in a new place, and lending my cousin and his family a helping hand. However, witnessing my cousin go through chemo was a challenge I hadn't anticipated. He is only a month older than me, intelligent and most of all, hardworking. He doesn't condone violence, loves sports, music and relaxing at his cottage. He lives a good and honest life. Making me ask myself, "Why him?". There's no real answer to this question, it's just a part of being human. Some of us are more at risk than others. One thing is for sure, life is too short to waste time looking for that stupid fucking answer. The cancer was here, chemo was the route..end of story, time to be positive.
   During the treatments it would sound like they were just sucking the life right out of him. His voice soft and weak without an ounce of enthusiasm. Most of his down time between treatments was spent in bed. The shades drawn, TV volume nearly inaudible, and what little conversations he had were prolonged by rounds of vomiting. The kind of ralphing that makes your whole body lurch, straining every human muscle to just work up a little bit of spittle. It seemed like the world's worst dry-heaves. He said going through chemo makes you feel like a zombie. I would pay him a visit and think to myself... "This is what getting better looks like? Damn it cancer! You're a real motherfucker!". Seriously, if cancer were a person; I would give him a wedgie, put gum in his hair, kick him in the balls, and throw him down the stairs....then I would proceed to kick his ass. Nonetheless, I never shared my fear for my cousin's fight with him. Instead, I tried to do what I think it is that I do best, make him laugh.
   Even through all of those weak moments he still found his smile. He still found a way to follow up my cheer with intelligent comebacks and quips. He would even make ME laugh. We found our way laughing through the treatments, laughing through his recovery and laughing last weekend at the lake. In April, on his birthday he got the 2nd best gift ever, his cancer was in remission. Just a week and a half ago he got the best gift he could ever have, a beautiful baby girl. Words can't even begin to describe my excitement for him and his new adventures. Just this week he finally got back to work on his own, giving me more time and energy to spend on a few neglected things.
   All of the time spent these last few months on being there for him and his family has put other occurrences in my life on hold. I missed a handful of loved ones' birthdays, a chance to sign-up for men's league softball, mending an old friendship that's long overdue, and writing for this blog. Sorry everyone, I had some shit to do!
   One week from today, I will be turning 30. Wholeheartedly after all of this, I'm looking forward to it. People say it's all down hill after 30 (or insert any age.). Well... fuck them. I don't have time for that negative shit. If it is downhill, then I'll make sure to pack my "saucer" for my 30th birthday party. It's going to be the downhill ride of my life! Seriously folks, stop tricking the youth with these cryptic statements. We're better than that. Living is fucking cool no matter the age. How we choose to perceive life is up to each and every one of us. Find your smile!

Peace and Love,
Scotty J. ~ Travel with a knife and a smile.