The First Word - The Battle, Part 1 - Cancer
“The Battle” is a series of articles about one author’s real-life trip through a minefield of experiences as he’s learning to deal with personal difficulty. There is no ulterior purpose, other than to share thoughts in the hope others may find counsel in the shared journey.
For the last year I’ve been sick on and off. I’d suffer for a while, my voice would disappear, then get better; I’d get sick again, take antibiotics, and so on and so on. Then, the first week in January, the Real Big Guy (RBG) reached down and flipped me on the ear by giving me what I think was pneumonia.
When I went to the doctor again, this time he wanted to do a throat scope. This time, I learned the cause of my ongoing health issues: the giant C-word. That’s right, cancer. I had a lesion at the top of my voice box. I think that made me vulnerable to any darn germ that came in the door.
So the journey onto the battlefield of uncertainty, of fear, of instinctive human reflection began. I’ve decided to share my experiences during the next six months on my rough road to recovery, and I do believe I will recover. I have been given a wake-up call by the RBG, and I am all ears.
Why write about something so personal? Why not?
The messages and calls I have received from my human network have provided such strength, such perspective, that I hope others will benefit from my thoughts as I go through this battle. I will try to keep the reading upbeat and enjoyable, but insightful as well. I have no ulterior motive. Some might see dark shadows to my motivation, and that’s their right, but I offer this series in the belief there is reason to most that happens in our world. We may not recognize it, but it is there, under the surface, whispering, if we will only bear witness to what’s really at play. To those that are having similar rough spots in your life, my intent is that by touching on my experiences, you may gain some context that others share your thoughts during crises.
My first sharing deals with the shift in my state of mind. I realized last night that I was experiencing three levels of emotional stress: Family, Goals, and Me:
1. Family - My wife of forty years and I are buds (I mean bonded at the core spirit, feeling an eternal, all-encompassing love for each other), always have been, always will be. I have terrific kids I could not be more proud of in terms of what they’ve done with their lives, and the men they’ve become: honest and full of compassion for others. My caring DIL whom I love has been so helpful; and of course, I have my angel, Emma, my only grandchild. Lordy, Lordy; is she the sparkle in all my thoughts! Plus my sister, brother, cousins, aunts—so very many lights are pointed my way.
Then there is my network of friends. I love my friends and I don’t say that lightly. They are part of the foundation I draw from. And if you think your welfare does not have an impact on your friends, than you just don’t understand how connected we are to those that touch our hearts.
2. Goals – At about the age of twenty-seven, at most, I scripted a plan in my mind of what I wanted to reflect upon those last minutes when I transferred to the next realm. They included: contributing to the common good of the nation, helping my fellow humans, and writing fiction novels.
3. Me – As humans, to some degree, we all struggle with the turmoil, pain and discomfort we have to deal with on a personal level.
When the C-word was thrown out, the Family dimension of my world peaked on my Fear/Worry Meter. To leave my wife to fend for herself, to no longer be her dragon-slayer man—chokes me up just thinking about it.
Early statements by the doctors were vague and confusing, giving us minimal hope. Because of the legal buzzards that hover ‘out there’, they were reluctant to tell us it was too early to make a prognosis. Hours turned to days, turned to weeks.
Nights were eternal as I pondered the impact of my stupidity and blindness on my Family. Yes, I said ‘stupidity’. For years I smoked, ignored the warning, pretended it was not me but others that would be stabbed by the devil’s stick, but I was only joking myself. I quit eighteen months ago, but it should have been sooner. And now the RBG is making me sit up straight for not listening more closely.
My Goal dimension also played on my mind, less heavily, but it was still there. I had spent forty years in support of the nation before I retired, had been fortunate to actually become a published author, and yet there were unfilled promises I had made to the RBG on how I would help those that needed it. Sure, I had helped on the periphery (via Lions Club and other things), but no way to the degree I am responsible for in this life. My fear was I would not have time to do those things I am charged to do.
The Me dimension was irrelevant. Hard to believe anyone could say those words and mean them. I know the treatments are hell, real hell, but it was of no consequence because I was dealing with the Family and Goal dimensions.
Then there was a shift yesterday. The word from the Radiologist was very positive (in terms of sticking around) but gruesome in terms of the stuff I will deal with over the next six mouths. My Dimensional Fear Barometer flipped. I sighed with relief. Chances are promising I will be here for my family, for those I’m charged to help but kept telling, “I’ll be there in a minute.” I truly believe I’ve been given a second chance.
Now, my “Me” dimension is screaming in my ear because these upcoming months will be miserable. Yet I will survive. I will get down, especially as the treatments progress, but I will survive. I’ll probably cuddle up like a baby in bed and tear up as the pain becomes severe, but I will survive.
I do lament the suffering my family will be put through, especially my wife. Yesterday was the first real poke-, stick-, etcetera-day in prep for treatments. I could tell it took a toll on her to watch the other part of her spirit dealing with stuff. I try not to be too explicit with her about what I’m feeling on a physical level in my present ‘stick it here, shove it there’ realm, but I don’t lie. We have never lied to each other, and I don’t plan to start. Besides, she’s too smart and perceptive.
Now the funny side. As I was going through the crap yesterday, and all these sweet young ladies were touching and caring for me, I thought, Hey, this ain’t bad. I guess a man will always be a man.
One really sweet (and cute) girl said as I came out of the PAT scanner, “Here, Mr. Davis, pull up on me.” I just smiled. This 100-pound sweetheart was going to lift this 300-pound bear. I was really afraid I would pull her little arm out so I just took her hand and pushed myself up, but are we not lucky for such angels? I think so.
The up-side: My wife has quit smoking, my sister has promised to quit, as has my son, and I think a few more are toying with the idea. Nothing brings home the truth, until someone close to you is affected.
I’ll return to the “Battle Series” once I start ‘real treatments’ next week and need mental diversion again. Hang loose, and anyone that wants to interact offline, email me at general@Davisstories.com. I will try to respond to everyone, but it may take time, especially as I get farther into the pits.
For some strange reason, I find sharing with ya’ll soothing to my spirit.
Michael W. Davis
After reading a draft of one my first novels, a friend asked, “Where do you get the ideas for what you write?” The best answer I could come up with was, “Life.” The same is probably true for many that try to create stories, they draw from what they know, what they remember from the highs and lows of life. In my case, so many memories began with the care and mentoring of the southern women in my youth. The courage and compassion of aunts and cousins that raised me formed my take on the world, and my view of the role relationships play to our very existence. Even with the demeaning image of romance in the media, the unique bond between a man and woman is what saves us from the loneliness, and gives us the energy to endure the sad times. Sounds hokey for a big guy to be a romantic doesn’t it, but its what I believe, and that philosophy flows into every thing I write.