It’s been three weeks since my diagnosis and those three words are still incredibly difficult to say. However, it’s our new normal…so, might as well embrace it.
In November, I noticed a sore throat that I attributed to what has become the typical annual sinus infection. It persisted into December, and on the 20 th of December, I noticed a lump in my neck…a lump in my throat that is accompanied by pride in a family accomplishment, the Olympics, sharing utter joy with friends, etc., is expected…and this lump was out of place. When I asked Les about it, I got a cock-of-the-head, inquisitive look from an exceptional, highly accomplished nurse (I knew then it was something to take to the doctor).
After a quick visit with my doctor the next day (and the same cock-of-the-head, inquisitive look – must be a thing with highly intelligent healthcare providers), I “earned” a CT. The next day, December 22 nd , I got a call and heard the words that no one ever expects, “Chad, I have really bad news.”
He wasn’t wrong, he did.
I have cancer…
Since that tsunami of overwhelming uncertainty and anxiety, I have been trying to comprehend what I, my family, and my career have ahead of me. And to be clear, you can’t imagine how many things race through your head at once. Seriously, it’s mind-numbing, the thoughts have included, but aren’t limited to the following:
WHAT THE FUCK?! There must be problem with the test. This really isn’t happening. How do I tell Leslie? How do I tell my kids? How do I tell my parents? Seriously, what the fuck?! Why me?
You get it…it’s a lot.
Thankfully, the first few days were full of distractions. Christmas – my family’s favorite holiday, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, all provided a welcomed respite from my brain scrambling with unknowns, what-if’s, why’s and what-the-hells. It also affirmed what I always knew to be true.
I’m a blessed man. I have the most incredible, supportive, strong, and resilient family ever.
Leslie is an unwavering force of nature, who has kept my head up, feet moving forward and never allowed me to fall into a state of woe. My kids…damn…they inject me with strength and purpose that will allow me to lean into the tempest. They’re a daily reminder of who I am, and what I need to fight for.
I’m biased, of course, but it’s far more than I’ll ever deserve.
I have cancer…
My diagnosis is late stage-two/early stage-three cancer at the base of my tongue (primary), with spread to my lymph nodes (secondary). Thankfully, it hasn’t spread to my lungs, which is the organ it typically spreads to, so that’s great news. I’ll take it!
The past ten days have been a whirlwind of medical appointments, surgical procedures, reflection, and undergirding myself for the fight ahead. Each doctor’s visit brings another wave of daunting and sobering information, prognostications, potential side-effects, qualified-positivity, and otherwise the kind of shit you see on TV and say, “that’s great writing, and thankfully that won’t happen to me.”
This is a season in my life. Nothing more…less than baseball, hockey, or football season. It won’t be pleasant; my family knows this, it gives me pause, but we’re leaning into this season. We are steeled against it and ready to tackle/endure/shoulder into what lies ahead. My treatment will include at least 33 radiation treatments, with a parallel course of chemotherapy (cisplatin), or immunotherapy. Not the ideal way to shed those unwanted pounds, but I’ll take the silver linings wherever I can get them.
I have cancer…and it’s scary.
That said, this is but the beginning of 2021. It’s not the final chapter in a book with so much left to be written. Years (hopefully decades) await to be experienced, explored, lived to its fullest, and shared with all who have impacted my life in endless, wonderful ways. This fight couldn’t be won without every experience my life with family and friends have provided me…in this respect, my cup thankfully runs over.
My cancer… Will not rob me of time with my family; Will not take away my sense of humor; Will not take away my sense of dignity; Will deplete my strength, but will not rob me of my resolve; Will make me sick, but I will flourish; Will knock me down, but I will get back up; Will win some battles, but I will win this war!