Hi! I had a conversation today with an acquaintance, one who happens to know quite a bit about melanoma. I had not seen this individual in quite some time, and it was enjoyable to visit with him again. In the course of our conversation, he mentioned that I looked surprisingly well. I told him I actually felt very well and that my attitude toward this cancer is that I am going to "kick its butt." He replied by pointing out that it's been almost 16 months since my diagnosis, which means I've already beaten the odds. Then he gave me one of those sympathetic looks that seems to say, "I greatly respect your courage. But, my good man, wake up to reality!"
I know this individual had the kindest intentions and I do not fault him for his words or his pity. My initial reaction, however, was that I wish he hadn't shared either with me. Why? Because the implication was that the odds are only going to get worse for me from now on. That's how I took his comment anyway. Whether I was right or wrong in my assumption, those are not the kind of expressions I want to hear right now--or ever--and it pretty much fouled up my Friday morning.
After eating lunch and taking a nap, however, it dawned on me that this individual probably did not understand what I meant when I said I was going to kick melanoma's butt. I think he interpreted my words to mean that I would beat the cancer, that I would drive it completely out of my body, and that I would live tumor-free the rest of my life. I think he would have responded the same way if I had told him I knew God was going to cure me, which, in my opinion, would be an absolutely ridiculous thing for me to say. I don't know what God is going to do. Only He knows.
Anyway, I digress. The fact is that I did not say I would "beat" melanoma. Such an occurrence very rarely happens, and I have accepted the fact that I will, in all likelihood, die of melanoma. Everybody dies of something; it might be a heart attack, it might be a car accident, it might be anything. In my case, it's probably going to be cancer.
BUT . . . before anyone concludes that I am hereby expressing a deathwish of some sort, I want to point out what I actually did say: I'm going to kick melanoma's butt. And what does that mean if it doesn't mean I'm going to beat it? It means that if the day ever comes that melanoma "wins" this battle between us, people who hear the news will say 'yeah, but he put up a hell of a fight.' Think Rocky Balboa losing to Apollo Creed in the original--and best--of the Rocky series. Or Boromir's death at the hands of the orcs in "The Lord of the Rings." Or the lesson Harry Potter learns from Dumbledore in Book 5 of Rowling's fantastic series:
“It was, he thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high. Some people, perhaps, would say that there was little to choose between the two ways, but Dumbledore knew—and so do I, thought Harry, with a rush of fierce pride, and so did my parents—that there was all the difference in the world.”
So, whatever the outcome, I am going to kick melanoma's butt. Not alone, of course. I'll need the prayers and help of Kelly, my kids, and all of you (and so many other people who can't access this blog). But I will kick melanoma's butt. I'm doing it now, and I'm going to keep on doing it for a long, long time.
PS The picture is Finn sporting his gorgeous "up do". Or, as we call it, his orangutan hair.