I watched HBO’s documenary on Jimmy Valvano, the colourful and successful U.S. college basketball coach. In 1993, two months before he died of cancer, he spoke at the ESPY sports awards. He described three things we should all do each day:
“You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is you should have your emotions moved to tears…. If you laugh, and you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day.”
I definitely have the crying part down. I think every day, mostly while lying in bed. And I laugh, because life is funny, and some days even cancer is funny. That’s why I started this blog; to show that cancer isn’t all sharp teeth and darkness.
But sometimes, cancer reminds me that the laughs are hard to come by, and probably temporary.
Last week, I was still waiting for a date to remove a tumour on my spine (seven weeks and counting). On Wednesday, my back pain returned, so I took morphine. On Thursday, I began to puke, as I sometimes do after morphine. Over the next 11 hours, I vomited 19 times. At day’s end, completely dehydrated, I began to spasm up and down my left side. My wife took me to hospital, where I was hydrated all night. They took a CT scan of my head, which revealed little (make your joke here).
My hope is that a sore back muscle required a painkiller which prompted a drug reaction that led to severe vomiting, that led to dehydration, which begat the spasms, who begat Noah, who begat Seth…
Or maybe I’m just full of tumours.
I feel like cancer is saying “I have ignored you, and allowed you your small daily victories, because I have so many other lives to destroy right now. But I have not forgotten you. My memory is long.”
Maybe cancer is a cat, and I am a bird on the ground.
That’s why I write. The more cancer scares me, the more I need to find the laughter. I need each day to be “a heck of a day.”