(If you haven’t read the first two No Mas blogs, go here and here. Also, the blog I wrote early in my Fishrocks career, “Marse Robert, I ain’t going,” also deals with this subject. Anyhoo, let’s get started.)
Well, here we are again, trying to decide if fighting this cancer thing is worth it. I know a lot of you are saying this right now…
“Wait, what?! Is it worth it? Of course fighting cancer is worth it. Why would you want to die? Remember what Jimmy V said? NEVER, EVER GIVE UP!!”
I know. But if you followed the links I gave you in the first paragraph of this blog, you know that this isn’t exactly a slam dunk decision for me. While I was struggling with this decision 5 years ago, I was frustrated at what the meds were doing to me and how I felt.
This is different. I’ve picked up a few tumors, my cancer is stage 4, and I’m on my third clinical trial. I keep lobbing Hail Mary passes into the end zone, and the first three were knocked down by the ultimate defensive back, an ever rising PSA and growing tumors.
(Yes, I’m going to miss football.)
So here we are again, looking at what isn’t working, and meanwhile the meds make me feel awful and I wake up running to the bathroom.
I’ve prayed quite a bit over this decision. I’m meeting a pastor now on a regular basis to talk about things in my ever shortening life. Things like what music I want played at my funeral. My friend Bill says I have to avoid the “Big Chill” music, although the Stones’ “You can’t always get what you want” is one of my faves.
I keep thinking about my friend Mark Bradford, and how his faith was so strong that he vowed not to do chemo, and willingly ran into the arms of his Savior. He also did it knowing the last few months of his life were not going to be very pretty.
And that’s really it, isn’t it? I’m not afraid of death, I’m afraid of dying. The last few months of a cancer death is a total shit show, with lots of searing pain and ugliness. You call in hospice, start taking morphine and slowly drift into unconsciousness while your horrified family and friends get to watch.
So, there’s that.
So I figure I have three options left in this lovely fight. Let’s break em down.
1. Keep fighting, keep getting sick with the off chance that one of these Hail Mary throws will connect and cure me like a Matt Stafford to Calvin Johnson touchdown pass from the old days.
(Congrats to Stafford for the Super Bowl victory. The Lions still suck.)
2. Take the Mark Bradford strategy, refuse treatment, and slowly die a rather nasty and painful death with lots of drugs to make me feel better.
3. Jump off a tall building.
The third option of those three has a tendency to make people very upset, and my docs and nurses who hear me say things like that insist I call my shrink. So I called him and I have an appointment on March 8. I’m writing this on February 17, so clearly they think this is a very pressing problem.
I actually wrote a scene in my head about this. I’m standing on a ledge, waiting to jump with a cop a few feet away. Imagine the cop has a very Irish brogue, like every cop in every Bugs Bunny cartoon.
Cop- Hookay Mr.Cole, I have your psychologist on the line. He wants to talk to you!
Me- Stay back, copper, or I swear I’ll jump!
(I say this in my best Jimmy Cagney accent. You dirty rat!!)
Cop, pleading- Mr. Cole, take the phone, he wants to talk to you. Think of your kids and your grieving wife!!
Me- Stay back, throw me the phone, don’t get any closer!
Cop throws me the phone, I catch it like the aforementioned Calvin Johnson.
(Phone plays hold music and a Spectrum Health reminder on what their COVID policies are for people that come down to the hospital, and my call will be answered in the order it was received, and, since the wait is over ten minutes, I can leave a callback number.)
Me- What the hell is this? I’m on HOLD!
Cop- Sorry Mr. C, they’re very busy.
I step off the ledge and land on an SUV parked outside of Yesterdog. Another tragic COVID death. I’m not wearing a mask.
(Don’t worry. In this scenario, the driver is in the restaurant picking up his order, and he has insurance. Unfortunately, my wife is his agent. Talk about a small world!)
If you think that joking about this is kind of sick, you’ve never had stage 4 cancer. Believe me, there are worse ways to die than taking a header into the sunroof of a 2017 Ford Explorer.
So, that’s my dilemma. None of these three choices are good ones. I also realize I left out the food Nazi choice, where I would totally forego all treatment, swear off any sugar or pasta or bread, eat bean sprouts and purple cabbage for the rest of my life, never touch alcohol and meditate for 7 hours a day.
If that were a real choice, I’d rather jump off a building.
Thanks for reading.