So, I Was Diagnosed With Cancer

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This morning I had my first appointment with the surgeon. After they took my blood pressure, they brought me into the doctor’s private office where I sat and waited for him to join me. On the walls were all of his diplomas and certifications, which made me feel like I wasted my life. Here I am, almost 50, grew up wanting to be a doctor, got too scared, got addicted to drugs, and am still working for tips in a casino. Me, the smartest kid in the family. The best looking. Me, the wasted life. That was how I felt waiting for the doctor.

He comes in and introduces himself with a deep voice and a Venezuelan accent. He sits across from me at his desk and asks me why I am there. What? Don’t you know? You want me to say it? I still can hardly admit it to myself. It was easier to stand up at an NA meeting and admit that I was a drug addict needing help.

Anyway, he pulls up my colonoscopy pics and comments that the mass needing to be removed is large (great!), then looks at the results of my CT scan. Here is what he told me:

  • ┬áMy chest looks clear. Some polyps on my liver but I guess that’s nothing to worry about. The thing in my rectum is cancerous, and they are concerned that there is a lymph node that it may have spread to. I will have an MRI to look into it.

  • The treatment they use these days is radiation and chemotherapy for 6 weeks, then let it all work for another 8 weeks, then they go in there and get it out. I felt butterflies in my chest. So scary! Fuck, I want it out NOW!

  • Because of the location of the mass, he’ll be able to remove it and put the whole thing back together.

  • However, I must have a temporary ileostomy while the whole thing heals for about ten weeks. Ugh! Pooping in a bag. This is becoming so real. I feel twenty years older and like my sense of humor is gone. Like I’m numb.

  • He needs to do a rectal exam with his finger…

So, his nurse takes me to a room, tells me to drop my pants and underwear, lay on my left side, cover myself with the paper blanket thingy, and wait for him. I’m six foot five inches but the examining bed isn’t, so I lay there in a fetal position self-comforting myself, staring at the wall which was inches from my face, waiting for the doctor to come back in. Waiting. Waiting. Took about ten minutes of waiting.

He comes in, tells me what he’s about to do, does it, then confirms that he should have no problem putting the whole thing back together.

I’m numb and nervous. I’m so scared for many reasons. I feel like an idiot I didn’t buy the AFLAC cancer insurance. I feel like I never get a break.

The diagnosis of the biopsy is: intramucosal adenocarcinoma, suspicious for invasion.

But I remember that I’m not a victim. This is just life giving me a hard time. All I can do now is follow directions and pray and hope that all of this will have a good outcome and I’ll be able to put it behind me, eventually.

Editor’s Note: You can read more about Jason’s battle with colorectal cancer at his blog JasonElbinger.com.

Jason Elbinger

Jason applies the spiritual principles learned in a 12-step program to dealing with his colorectal cancer diagnosis. His illness inspired him to rediscover his passion for writing, and he blogs regularly at jasonelbinger.com.