A year ago today, I embarked on an adventure that I do not want to repeat.
On Jan. 16, 2012, I began treatment for lung cancer. Over the next four months, doctors dosed me with toxic drugs, zapped me with millions of volts of electricity, carved into my left leg and turned me into a pile of sickly goo.
They also got rid of the quarter-sized tumor in the upper lobe of my left lung. (A couple of lymph nodes also got their butts kicked. But I consider them a mere medical amuse-bouche.)
Today, I am cancer free. It is my hope that I remain so ... forever.
I kept a journal of 40,000-plus words for much of the journey. The entries dwindled as treatment weakened my body and soul,, a two-month period when only the barest shreds of dignity forced me to walk the required 30 feet from my recliner to the bathroom.
It’s my intention to publish much of that journal piecemeal here on this blog.. There's plenty to parcel out. I’ll edit it as best I can while maintaining the flavor of the particular time and place in which it was written.
I originally wrote the journal for The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, the newspaper I’ve worked for (mostly as a reporter) the last 23 years. That didn’t happen because editors did not like my story. I could say more about this, but it would not serve any real purpose.
After deliberating what to do with all these words, I've decided stick my story up on the Internet and hope someone finds it. There's not much else for me to do. And I do hope it’s found. Writers who say they write for themselves are liars.The narcissist in us demands that we lovingly present our prose to the rest of the universe.
I don’t know how my story compares to anyone else’s. I admit I’ve not read other cancer journals. Too depressing. Cancer is such a shitty subject.
But my story is not about cancer. It’s about me. It’s about a guy who, if God is willing, would like to figure some stuff out sooner than later. It’s about a guy who wants to do better. Publishing this journal is part of the process. Finishing what I start has never been a strong suit.
The story will be published chronologically with the occasional interlude and digression for current events, such as the results of an upcoming CAT scan.
And for those of you who might stumble across this journal, here is some background: My name is Mark. I will be 54 in March. I live in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. I’m married to Mary Lou for 23 years and have two children, Sam, a college sophomore, and Hanna, a high school junior. In keeping with their (and my) wishes, I'll be trying to maintain their privacy as best I can without being completely obtuse.
I still work for the paper although that might not be for long as the owners take us in a new direction. I’m tall and of an appropriate weight. I recently shaved my head, which was a bit odd given that my hair had only grown back a few months ago. I like the ease of use a bald head provides.
I’m extremely fond of golf, poker, both of which I play reasonably well. My interest in the cinema seems to be increasing. I think I have a special knack for teaching and coaching baseball, although my son, who had to play on a number of my teams, might disagree.
I'm a deeply flawed individual. Some folks think I’m an asshole, an opinion that I've seemed to encourage over the years. I now realize that has been a less-than-honorable way to live my life. I possess a small but extremely loyal coterie of friends for whom I'm extremely grateful.
My hope is to post one or two journal entries on a regular basis until there’s nothing further to post. Given all the demands on people’s attention these days, I'll try my best to keep the posts as short as possible in the hope I can draw folks in and persuade them to follow along.