I had a couple of minor health issues that I could not avoid. 1, I had a mass on my left thigh just above the knee and 2, I was beginning to have some prostate problems. The knee was looked at thought to be a lipoma, a non cancerous fatty mass. At the same time, during a routine ultrasound my doctor saw a small, golf ball size mass near my left kidney. He ordered me to a urologist who wanted a biopsy of the mass near the kidney. 4 days later I lay on a table as the inserted a needle deep in my body to remove a sample of the mysterious mass. 3 days after that I was again on a table, this time having a softball size mass removed from my leg. A week after surgery I still had not heard the results of the biopsy. I called my urologist. Something wasn't right. I could sense his unease on the phone. "I wouldn't normally do this, but we need to get this going right now. I am sorry Glen, it came back cancer."
The rest of the call I don't remember. I hung up. Is this really possible? IN 3 months I lost my mom, my job and now I was facing cancer? It wasn't possible! I called back and the urologist already had me set up with a surgical oncologist. I met with him 3 days later. He told me I have a very rare form of cancer, pleomorphic liposarcoma. I was scared. Was this what was in my leg they had just removed? Luckily, a check, then recheck of the pathology said no. This was the first sign. I had additional testing to confirm the cancer. It's real.
On May 2nd I underwent an 8 hour surgery to remove a high grade tumor from inside me. The tumor had grown completely around the ureter (the drainage tube out of the kidney) and they had to remove half of it and reconnect my bladder. It had grown half way around the artery in my leg and attached itself to both my spine and the sack that holds the spinal cord. Luckily the surgical team removed all the visible cancer. The pathology report came back that I have 3 out of 4 margins that are "positive" or still show signs of cancer. They give me best case a year before the cancer comes back, probably in the same area and possibly spreading to others as well. On top of that I have now been out of work for nearly 6 weeks and have been told because of radiation therapy which I will more than likely go for I am out at least 3 more months.
How am I with all of this happening within the last 6 months? I think about as close to euphoric as I could be. Cancer has done something unimaginable to me. It has opened my eyes. It is the best problem I have ever had. I see clearly now, the things that always eluded me. What is important. Not success (well not as most of us think of it anyway) and nothing material in nature. Things that once bothered me...pet peeves I see now are trivial. I see people for who they are, not what I wanted them to be. I love, deeply and unconditionally everyone I meet, because I know they have pain, struggles and tragedy, yet I know they too can over come them. Our greatest gift is adversity. When we overcome, when we fight with all our heart, knowing that no matter what we gave 100% we understand the meaning of living. I used to go on day to day "wanting". Wanting a better life, wanting the perfect mate, the perfect job, the perfect car etc. When I would be the perfect weight I would be happy. All I ever needed, wanted and desired I already had. It has been in me all along. I understand true compassion. Giving, with all I am to the things that matter to me. I urge you to take a long look in the mirror. Look at that person you see. Be honest and understand that YOU are the greatest thing in your life. Not another person, not money, not fame. YOU. Although I miss my mother, and wish I didn't have cancer, both of those facts are just that. My cancer does not define me, just as your job, your mate or your weight define you. What defines you is your heart. What you do with this life. We are all terminal, we will all die, the question is, are we all living even now? It's not too late. Start living.
Strong Like Bull
As a side note, I am working on starting a non-profit to fight sarcoma cancers with the proceeds going to The James Cancer Hospital at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. To join me on this fight, "Like" us at facebook.com/StrongLikeBullAgainstCancer
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