The Cancer Chronicles
An Anthology Series
By Kevin Keyser
On June 6th 2016 I was having some problems with my arm thought myself fairly healthy.
On June 7th 2016 I found out I had a brain tumor my world has never been the same since.
I'm alive I've had a retraction/resection of the tumor on June 10, 2016. They drilled my head open with me awake so could I could help tell them what I was feeling. It was fascinating. Unfortunately they couldn't get all of the tumor there are parts of it that are still there.
So I do chemo once a month and it messes with me for two weeks so. But I'm alive and happy for it. I have so many friends come visit me here was just my home that makes me happy.
So what to do I'm forcefully disabled now. I get very very tired because of the chemo everything. Well I'm a writer I write this stuff down and churn it out for you all to read.
So that's what I'm going to do in The Cancer Chronicles Part 1. As I don't plan on ending it anytime soon and each one is going to have its own Focus
Part 1 Is going to be from the moment of diagnosis until going home.
Part 2 Will about settling in to home.
Part 3 Will be about my second rehab stay, currently underway.
Parts 4 and 5 will be about whatever comes next.
So this is Part one of the Cancer Chronicles I hope you enjoy it and though it is a very very very serious subject you draw humor and inspiration from it.
“So I have an infection with my inflection. but I shall overcome this like I've overcome so much before. I shall be back reading poetry sooner than you think.I have a ride to tell you about. Now starts the telling…”
KJK 6/21/2016 (11 days post surgery)
The New Guy
“Hello, I’m the new guy.”
Around me are people who are aged well into their 90s.
I am, quite literally the baby man of the floor.
Heads pop up.
“Were you in African theater of war?”
I puzzle on question and realize that the war in question was WWII.
“No, I wasn’t even born then.”
Shocked looks follow.
“So - what are you in for fella?”
“Hard time!” It was the 93 year old dude.
He raises his glass to me: “Here’s to you my young friend.”
We drink a toast with apple juice.
“To the better days ahead.”
And they will be.
“Mornings I love quiet mornings .
Like today they must not be running the airplanes on the runway near me.
So what am I supposed to write about today? Some of this stuff is going to be random streams of consciousness ooooo big words. This is not the ending this is a beginning.”
It’s not like the song.
That’s the first thing I learned.
There are no oxygen masks.
No Bellevue hospital.
There isn’t even a beat;
You can dance too.
So, what’s real?
Just slugging away.
Building their lives.
While saving mine -
All part of the job.
Part of a plan.
Which is still unfolding.
Before my amazed eyes….
“In here we have hiding places for the thoughts we all think but are too proud or scared to admit.
Life, Death, Love. Of these I have life and love down, at least somewhat. Still figuring out death. He’s not in any hurry, though. Or so I am told.”
I feel words.
Still rolling around my head.
They are like billiard balls.
Maybe the cueball.
That’s OK, though.
They are still here.
They comfort me.
Like they always have.
Because I am only the co writer now.
There is another hand.
Holding my crippled hand.
Telling me about the love I already know exists.
Compelling me onward.
To heal, adjust, and make it work.
Are these just ramblings?
A fevered brain?
Of course they are.
But like in Harry Potter, they are very real.
Challenge accepted, sir!
Bring it on.
K.J.K. - 6/26/2016
“So this whole thing is a test of wills. One I do not expect to lose.”
I Have This
Sometimes I think it’s all going to work out.
Sometimes I am scared it won’t.
But I have this.
Come what may.
This is a battle.
With my body and my mind.
My body is in God’s hands.
My mind is in my hands.
It’s like my squeeze ball.
Sometimes under pressure.
Sometimes clear with purpose.
So, I have this.
Sometimes by myself.
Sometimes with the help of friends.
And their love within.
“Then there's the time when you get out at the hospital and it's hard figure out what's going to happen next and how much of the journey you still have to go…”
Look at Life In Rehab
7 AM, the chimes start.
Day crew is on and everyone knows it.
Time to get your request in.
To get up and dressed for the day.
If you wait too long you will still be in bed when food comes.
Looking lovingly at it’s heat waffing away.
Getting colder and colder as you lay in bed.
Until the bacon is cold and the juice is warm.
One of the staff come in and “assist”.
The best ones are the people who have time to let you do all the work, until you can’t.
‘Cause you have to learn this stuff.
If you want to “Move on”.
I get half dressed.
Pants, socks, shoes.
I keep the gown on until I eat and shave.
Then I finish getting dressed.
I commiserate with my roommate for a bit.
Each dreaming of life on the outside.
Then it’s on to therapy, chemo or radiation.
On to build this body up.
To face the challenges yet to come.
Moving to life on the outside.
To be continued later on in “Look at Life In Rehab - The Grind”.
“The grind is not your coffee. It is figuring what and how you are going to live by doing many exercises and things. It’s planning out a life….”
Look at Life In Rehab
So here’s the deal:
You are here to work.
Perhaps harder than you have ever before.
Not for someone else.
For your life.
The grind starts shortly after waking.
There are things to do.
Mundane, everyday things.
Except that here they aren't everyday things.
They are extraordinary things.
Those are not pants.
They are two fabric tunnels.
Filled with toenail traps and snags.
Uncharted passages your brain has to figure out.
Work the COG*.
Figure the puzzle out.
Got those pants on yet?
How about everything else?
The grind has just started.
It’s off to rehab or treatment.
Then something afterwards.
You have to push yourself.
Beyond where you think you will break.
The therapists will make sure of that.
But they will let you get close, very close.
Then stop you.
Soaked with sweat.
Finally they sit with you.
As you drink your water.
And talk with you.
Until you can give it another go.
Get it done.
With as much of a smile as possible.
Get that confidence built back up.
That’s the key.
You have to believe.
Don’t forget to pray.
Talk to the Lord.
He will help you push through it.
For this is the grind.
Which will become mundane, everyday things.
In due course….
*COG = Cognition, figuring out things, challenge your brain.
To be concluded later on in “Look at Life In Rehab - The Prize”.
“Then there comes a time to go back home. You may feel that it is the same home you left. Newsflash - It’s not.
Look at Life In Rehab
Home is the goal.
The prize of your stay in rehab.
A place that you will dream of -
All perfect, all inviting, exactly the way you left it.
Except that this is a dream.
Like all dreams it is idealized.
In reality the home you will go back to will be vastly different.
With new things to help you continue to recover.
You will have to relearn many of the things you took for granted before.
That’s all right, though.
Think of this as re-birth.
A new you is on the way.
It will be weird for a while.
As you learn how to be “you” again.
Eventually, it gets better.
Things get easier.
Especially when you start to do things your way.
Putting your mark on the new routines of the day.
You feel less of a guest in your home.
And more of your old self.
Then one day it all feels natural.
Your new life firmly in place.
Time to go on living.
Congratulations on winning the prize.
Your new life unfolds before you:.
Make it a good one and God bless.
“Love, you think it means one thing most of your life and then you realize it means all not just romantic love. Love of friendship, Then the warm cradling support love of God wrapping himself around your soul…”
Revelations of Love
Introspective, been doing that a lot recently.
Been thinking a lot about myself.
There is more to this than myself.
I have to know that.
This journey I am on is not a solitary passage.
There are others along the way.
Others who love me;
An idea I only recently have accepted.
Spending years thinking myself unloveable.
I don’t know.
Maybe I had to learn it the hard way.
I have so much family now.
Blood, Soul, Church.
So many prayers.
So much love.
My pledge to you all:
I love you.
I will stand.
I will fight.
I will live.
Have you seen the sight?
Of all those bald heads done up right?
With red and green bows.
A little tinsel.
Maybe some popcorn.
Draped over these huge ears.
Yes I am bald.
Someday soon there will be no hair.
It will all be a memory.
I won’t miss it…
It’s been awhile since I could handle music.
The complex emotions it stirs up.
The words music calls forth.
The tears, God the tears!!
A switch got turned back on in my head this morning.
Music is back, I am told to stay.
These are tears of joy.
Like meeting an old love and wondering why you ever broke up….
“All I will say is that faith is very, very important. The rest you have to figure out….”
Five days a week I go to Luther General’s “Center for Advanced Care”.
It is a cancer treatment center.
I get radiation and chemo treatment five days a week there.
I have always known that cancer was a big deal and lots of people have some kind of it.
But to know something intellectually is not the same as living it.
The “Center for Advanced Care” is huge.
It is filled to the brim with hundreds of people fighting what I will now call the scourge of our time.
Maybe the scourge of all time.
I see so many brave people, who are sometimes weak.
Like I am.
There is a bond, a secret handshake.
The knowing nod from someone else in the “club”.
We are fighters.
Like Dan Millman’s Peaceful Warrior we all have our game faces on.
Working our asses off to become the champion.
To beat this spectrum of diseases back into the genetic soup from whence it came.
All stories will not finish happily.
Science may solve this one day.
There are lots of people working on this.
It would be nice to see these places less crowded.
The secret handshake no longer needed or remembered.
Until then we will keep up the fight.
Praying that the story finishes happily.
This concludes Part 1.
Look for Part 2 ASAP.