Saturday, April 11, 2009


It was comedic, even from the start. I remember when I was just 16 and I noticed, when I lay on my back with my shirt off, that the right side of my abdomen was about 3 inches bigger than my left. I asked my aunt about it and she said it was probably abdominal swelling.
For some strange reason I didn't trust that and went to my family doctor. She said, aloud, "Oh God." By That afternoon I was booked into the Royal Alex for a biopsy. I joked with the nurses about the weekend; I was to go with my Uncle and Step-father to hunt Grouse, etc. I told the nurses, "Well, there goes my weekend, eh?". They didn't laugh and instead looked mournful and told me to relax and be happy. They said I should call my parents.

I remember sitting in the doctor's office with my folks and the doctor came in and said, "Jody, you have Cancer. It's lymphatic and your chances of recovery are very low." 11%, he said.
I think my mother cried and my father, too. I can't remember well because I watched the whole scene from above. I was floating. I hovered there, out of body, and watched it play-out like I was watching a sit-com. A sick-com. I didn't understand what he meant.

That weekend I had a biopsy done on my neck and it left a giant scar. I have been shy about being shirt-less ever since.

The strangest thing was that the night before I had to go into the U of A hospital for my first chemotherapy treatment, I had a vivid dream about tigers. In the dream, two tigers were chasing me through the jungle and I knew that making it to the door of some nondescript building would save me. When I awoke I told my mother, maybe it was 5 a.m. I told her about the tigers and how they were snapping at my heels but I beat them to the door, I out-ran them. We talked about it for a while and then it was time to go. I had to go to the hospital.

The nurse told my mother and I about my impending Broviac. A Broviac, or Hickman Line, is a cathater tube into the heart. It went up my neck, turned, and then went back down into my heart.
It stuck out of my chest and I had to keep it very clean and be very careful of it for a long time. I had a tube sticking out of my chest for a year that went directly to my heart.
After the nurse left, my mother and I looked up when she shut the door. I froze and nearly passed-out. On the back of the door was a poster with two tigers. They looked hungry. I knew then that this was some serious shit.

I didn't cry very much, I wanted to be strong and be a man. I wanted to beat cancer and began to have fantastic fantasies. I would imagine that my white cells were fucking severe Lions, ripping through my viens and tearing the life out of any other cells that were producing too much. I was a beast in my mind. I imagined victory and dreamt of fighting death. Late at night, when noone was around, I would get out of bed, shakey-legs and all, and I would challenge death. I would dare it to fight me.
Sometimes I would even fake pain, to get a 7cc morphine shot, then drift into battle. My doctors were beautiful, super-human. They gave me hope and were strong when I couldn't be; when I was too sick to be.

Once I remember getting a marrow-test. That hurt, very much. I had a cute nurse (I wish I could have bedded her) rubbing my back and talking to me while the doctor took a circular bit and pushed it into the muscle and beyond, into my pelvic bone. The end of the tube was serrated and he twisted it when it hit bone. I was braced against the door frame and I am sure I was crying. The nurse rubbed my back and I braced and the tube took 1/8th of my bone, deep and painful. I was just 16 and I was scared and felt like a man at the same time.

The worst was the LP; the Lumbar Puncture. Twice a week I would lay on my side and have a 6 inch needle slip into and between my lumbar. It was horrible and I always cried. It felt so awful, taking spinal fluid and replacing it with chemotherapy. And people wonder why I am alone and without God. Well, it's because I saved me. I did it. I did the work and cried the tears and watched my family fall apart in woe because of my illness; my little sisters asking my mother if I was going to die. A four-year-old girl, asking that, it's not right, man. It ain't right at all.

I was 16 years old and fighting a battle most people would never know. I suppose that is when I began to change. How do you relate after that? I think I went through 10th and 11th grade after that before I just laughed and left. What could they have taught me about life then? What did anyone have to offer me?


I beat that cancer, hard. I kicked it's ass. 11%? Fuck you. Cancer just picked the wrong boy; the right man.
I got sick a ton and chemo is the worst. I spent a year dry-heaving.

I started to see myself as separate from humanity, from society. I couldn't relate to anyone anymore. It wasn't bad or sad or anything like that, it was just natural; it was obvious and true.
And in high school it was hard. "Hi, I just saved my own life and almost died. I am Siddhartha, Frankenstien and Marlow; this is the darkness of my heart." "Oh yeah?", they'd say, "Do you like Nirvana, or The Red Hot Chili Peppers?".
Fuck, I might as well have died.

7 months after I finished my last chemo treatment I had my broviac taken out. It felt so strange, to have this catheter pulled out of my neck and Superior Vena Cava. For the first tine in 16 months I had a shower, naked. Before, my broviac was covered with a Safeway bag, or something. Fear of infection was serious. And the last thing I needed with cancer was a fucking heart-infection.

I showered long that day after the broviac came out. I remember dropping to my knees and crying very loud and hugging myself while the hot water cleansed my body and soul.

I won.

I was a drunk and a drug-fiend and an asshole. I even smoked cigarettes. I provoked death and demanded a rematch. Death ignored me and I continued to explore the freedoms of a man without fear.

Cancer was the best thing to have ever happened to me.
It made me a man; and a human outside of all of this.

I won.


Sid Heart said...


Anonymous said...

You sir are a mutha-fucken RENEGADE! I wish I knew you when the broviac was taken out. I would have rubbed haldi--a paste made of tumeric, sandlewood, and rose water--on you to mark your rebirth.
kabuki librarian

David said...

I, too, had lymphatic cancer when I was 17. I can relate to the bone marrow biopsy, the chemo and the pain. Reading your story, I got off easy (no lumbar puncture or broviac).

Fight on, man.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Beautiful description man...

Sid Heart said...

Thanks kids. A man's got to do what a man has got to do. David, we are brothers like that. It's a secret society. Member-up, my friend.

日月神教-向左使 said...