11Alive's Jerry Carnes first published this blog in November 2015 when he marked 7 years cancer-free.
A victim is someone who has suffered, someone marred by a loss at the hands of a deceiver.
I’m not a victim. Never have been. I refuse to give cancer that kind of credit.
Yes, cancer did rob me of a tiny little gland that I really don’t miss. Sorry, Mr. Prostate. You served me well for most of my life, but quite frankly, I didn’t even know you were there. It’s not your fault. It’s mine. I didn’t take the time to educate myself about your purpose, or your potential. I knew nothing about you until that memorable day in 2007, when my father announced that his prostate was ravaged by cancer. For him, evicting the soiled gland wasn’t much of an option. His cancer was already on the move, afflicting nearby bone and organ. I learned too late just how much cancer enjoys your company, Mr. Prostate. I was late finding out the ways I could have helped my father avoid the suffering.
Cancer took my father. My dad should have been there when my son married last year. He should be present when my daughter walks the aisle next year. I miss his phone calls. I miss his sense of humor, his generosity, his incredible energy. Cancer took that from me.
But I’m not a victim. No. Cancer will not get that credit.
Cancer has enriched me. The last seven years have been a crash course in anatomy, medicine, human behavior, male stubbornness, and grief. I was shocked to learn that men were so reluctant to talk about their experiences with a common disease. It never crossed my mind to keep quiet. I was further shocked to discovered how many men refused to submit themselves to yearly physicals, ignoring the threat of so many subversive maladies. The whole experience has given me ample fuel to talk, blog, plead, cajole, and lure men into the sunlight of awareness.
Thanks to cancer, I’ve also become a history buff. Not the Napoleon and Genghis Khan type of history buff, but the Nanner and Great-grandpa type. Prostate cancer, breast cancer, lymphoma. They’re like second cousins. After studying my family history, I know the next demon with my name in his little black book goes by the name colon cancer. My grandfather died from it. Because of his passing, my first colonoscopy was at the young age of forty-five. It led to the discovery and removal of a precancerous polyp. I know my history. I know my friends, and I know my enemies.
Cancer, you’re my enemy.
You will not victimize me.
I’m now seven years cancer free. November 11, 2008. That’s the day I set cancer free. It’s out of my body, but not out of my life. Now comes the seven year itch. There’s a yearning to do more to protect others from the ugly side of this evil disease.
My body is showing signs of my advancing years. In just a couple of weeks, I’ll fall asleep so yet another surgeon can perform his magic. This time, it’s a brittle knee that needs attention. My eyesight is suffering. The only upside is that I can’t see how gray my hair has become. I’m not the energetic young athlete I used to be.
But I am not a victim.
Victims mope. They’re resentful. I’m just the opposite. I’m thankful. I’m grateful that cancer gave me a renewed appreciation of God’s great blessings. Cancer gave me knowledge, attention, awareness. It gave me a fight. I’m stronger.
Do you hear that, cancer?
You’re my victim.