It was just after my 63 birthday when I discovered I had cancer. Initially you have a lot of time to think. The doctors run a battery of tests and waiting for these results offers an opportunity for reflection. I have worked at hard physical labor all of my life. Oh, I owned the company but I wasn't an office type owner, I was always with my crew in the ditches or on the roof, always doing what I expected of them. The plus of all this is I began my battle with cancer from a very strong position. I weighed 225 pounds and could easily lift 200 pounds, almost my own weight!
My heart checked out excellent (I know I have a good heart!) as did all the blood tests, blood pressure, cell counts and whatever else the doctors tested for. Except for the cancer I was pretty healthy and ready to enter the ring! I had twelve chemo-cocktails, four different poisons.
These were given me every two weeks through a tube implanted in my chest. I was strong and I was lucky, the first six of these did nothing adverse to me: no bad symptoms at all. I continued to work, welding and building and creating and no one could ever tell that "I had cancer".
Then it hit me like a frieght train in the middle of the night with its light out! My hair started to fall out, but that was the easy part. I have never been so tired in my life. It is not describable how tired I was and sleep became my friend. I slept 16 hours a day! There was no pain throughout all of this, at least until the end when neuropathy got my hands. I never threw up but totally lost my appetite. I tried to eat and my wife would make all sorts of dishes to tempt me. My daughter came to visit and tried her best to get me to eat. I sometimes would put food in my mouth and my brain would litterly say "spit it out or die". It is difficult to describe this period and I write it down so I won't forget it. I lost 50 pounds! In two months! In two months I became an old man, with that old man gait, the clothes that don't fit, the stoop, every effort to walk was all but impossible. Oh how I hated that. The chemo was doing its job I told myself constantly. I lost most of my finger nails and toe nails, and of course, all of my hair and 50 pounds! I always told myself that the cancer was going too! And I was right, it did! I am left with this neuropathy, a constant pain in my right hand, like stirring a bucket of cut glass! Collateral damage!
Throughout all this process, for 24 weeks, every two weeks I went to the "chemo-room" at the hospital to get these cocktails along with many others. Now, here is the sad part of this story.
A lot of them didn't make it.