I check my email more often than I need to because, for me, it’s like buying a lottery ticket — there’s hope in it every time. If I get a soulful message from my better-half I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot. The very name of some of my friends and relatives in my inbox makes me positively giddy. My life suddenly makes more sense for the connections I have to some really amazing people.
When there are no new messages, or just a bunch of spam and solicitations, I deflate a bit. It makes me realize that there is little in this life that matters other than those connections.
On Jan. 4, there was an “anti-jackpot” waiting for me. Words fell like hammers as I read my friend’s Facebook status: “Y’ever wondered what it would be like to be told you had cancer? Well now I know. A doctor told me so today. No suspense. No foreplay.
Just this: You have cancer … BAM!! Well, Happy New Year!”
On Andy’s 52nd spin around the sun, he’d gone in for a colonoscopy and recalls hearing: ” ‘Oh that’s cancer for sure, believe me, I know cancer,’ said the veteran doctor, one who has spent way too many Tuesday mornings poking around strangers’ rectums. ‘It’s got to come out now.’ ”
Broadcaster, producer, and writer Andy Frank, of Toronto, is known as a tireless supporter of Canadian folk and roots music, but I simply know him as a guy I met because of a cause we both believe in. He’s a guy who has made my life better as he flits in and out of my inbox. (That sounds wrong, but his wonderful Helen won’t be offended, so I’m going with it.)
Andy isn’t the type of guy to take things lying down, that is unless he is strapped to a medical table for a CT scan or surgery. He, instead, started a blog to inform others and to face his mortality head on.
Cancer? My Arse!! is his raw, humour-filled blog. (And by raw I mean he’ll drop the occasional Fbomb — but in these circumstances I’d be emphatic, too.) Reading his posts almost feels like a violation at times, but there is no doubt that the blog is a good thing, for Andy and for others. Some media have called it “required reading for any man over 40,” though colorectal cancer has also taken its share of lovely ladies from the planet, like my daughter’s namesake, Audrey Hepburn.
Andy writes: “Statistically, it seems I have a 60/40 chance of surviving this colorectal cancer, which is coincidentally the amount of time I spend in both optimism and pessimism camps respectively. Some loving, well-intentioned folks are encouraging me to ignore the 40% side … but that’s just not realistic … So yes, I remain very optimistic … But I will not deny the fright, nor do I expect anyone else to do so in my presence.”
His Cancer? My Arse!! FAQ is extremely informative, for example: “Q — Colorectal cancer sounds like a pain in the arse. What’s the dealio? A — It is the second leading killer-cancer in Canada behind lung cancer … some 8,900 CDNs will croak because of (colorectal cancer) this year, 12% of all cancer-related deaths, almost as many as breast and prostate combined.”
That’s news to me. I don’t remember ever hearing about a colorectal cancer fundraising campaign, yet we see lots of pink ribbons and all had to endure Movember moustaches. Andy says: “It’s not a sexy cancer … and colonoscopies are a two-day process involving fasting, a massive( crap)-a-thon, followed by a general anaesthetic and exam … I can see why it is largely avoided.” His response is “Jan-u-hairy.” (Read about it on his blog.)
‘Butt’ his bottom line is clear (or hopefully will be post-surgery), don’t avoid it, the mortality rates get worse the longer you wait. There are often no symptoms, you’re just supposed to start ‘probing’ your doctor about getting testing around age 50 (and he’ll hopefully return the favour).
I can’t do Andy’s blog justice. It’s funny — such as where his friends suggest new hairstyles for him (including Chia hair) when he comments about his vanity and worries about hair loss. It’s heartbreaking — as he links to one of his favourite songs by NLX, and writes: “The song is called Afraid, and I want to hear it again because, well, I am.”
Andy’s blog is at http://cancermyarse.com.
I thank you for reading and/or gracing my inbox with your presence, but now I’m going off-line for a week or so (I can quit at any time — really!) to focus on connecting more personally. I feel the need to let folks know how important they are to me — life is too short not to.