It is difficult to express the feeling one has; what goes through one’s mind when a doctor calls to say you have leukemia. There’s really no preparing for it. Further, the disbelief that suddenly your life has a serious end date, something unexpected. Mid 2019, as I tried to visit a new comic book shop a month I started to feel really tired. I was so tired that after work each day, all I wanted to do was sit or sleep. Being an overweight person, I worried that I was getting too many carbs or too much sugar, so I scrutinized what I ate consistently. My diet consisted of chicken, turkey, fish and veggies, still I felt heavy and tired.
In the fall, I noticed something unusual, I had a huge bruise on my knee but I couldn’t remember hurting myself. I assumed, I must have bumped it at some point and just didn’t remember. Only, to discover that more bruises were appearing on my arms and on legs and I knew I wasn’t doing anything to cause them. I should have known there was something wrong because these bruises didn’t hurt. They were big, but they didn’t hurt and that seemed odd to me. I had a doctor’s appointment coming up and figured, I would wait and mention the bruise then. I got a blood test and received the typical message, ‘we will call you if something it wrong.’ I shrugged it off and figured my tiredness was because of my weight (trust me, the medical community is prejudice against fat people, any problem you have its cause you are fat, oh wait, I’ll use the medical term = because you are obese). So I really thought my problem was weight related and I just needed to keep using the stairs even though my fatigue was just shy of debilitating.
So yeah I got that call, that one I mention above; the cancer diagnosis. My life has been interrupted by “the cancer” and I’ve been learning to deal with it. First I should note that the rare form of cancer I have is curable, but only if my body doesn’t reject that treatment. I will spare the statistics of people who don’t survive and just say that I’m going to live. I spent over 30 days in the hospital, which was a horrible experience and not something I wish on people I mildly like. My enemies, yes I wish they had to spend a month in a filthy, dated and cramped hospital room in Bronx New York. Ok but back to the cancer.
When friends and family found out, I received mix responses, some were heart felt and made me feel loved and some were plastic and I really could do without. What do I mean about plastic? People who say ignorant stuff like, “you just have to stay positive” and “look on the bright side”. I can’t tell you how insensitive those words are. No one, not even other cancer patients or survivors should say you have to be positive about having fucking cancer. Its not helpful and further its invalidating. Going through this experience, there are ups and downs. My spouse and I try to keep our senses of humor about the whole thing. That is how we chose to deal with it, it’s not how others have to deal with cancer. Every person is different and that means how they approach their cancer is going to be unique. I wish people respected that and if they can’t think of something supportive to say, just don’t say anything at all.
My diagnosis was in September 2019, I haven’t been back to work since that time. Its been about 5 ½ months and I still have another 6 months of treatment to go. Most days, I’m tired but that’s from the poison on my body fighting the cancer. I take a serious cocktail of prescription meds and have to ask permission to take something over the counter for a headache. Everyday I go to the hospital to get stuck with a needle for my infusion. I thought being home would be ok, good even as I’d fill my time catching up on comic book reading, writing new blogs, cooking, grilling and watching Netflix. None of that has happened. I’ve been depressed and lost interest in most things that used to bring me joy; comics being one of those things. My hair hasn’t completely fallen out and I kind of wish that it had, instead it super thin and balding in weird patches around my temples. I have dark spots on my face and I look like I have two black eyes which are all side effects of the chemo. I mentioned said discoloration to the dermatologist who shrugged it off as me being black. Even when I said I didn’t have these before the chemo, he argued all my issues were either related to me being overweight or because I am black.
I just feel empty while I try and fight this stupid disease. I worry about getting back to life after cancer. I worry about returning to work, will I still be tired? Was all the tiredness the cancer? I worry about my hair growing back and no longer being thin. I worry that my skin will not return to its natural color but will have discoloration in odd shapes and in odd places permanently. I worry that my chemo brain won’t keep up with the fast pace of my demanding job. I don’t know what day of the week it is sometimes unless I look at my pill pack.
The entire time I was away from my local comic shop, the guys were kind enough to keep my comics instead of demanding I send someone to pick them up. This is what 3 months of comics looks like. That awesome person standing over my should, is Doug, he’s such a great guy. We practiced posing for the picture until you couldn’t quite see either of our faces.
Here are some pictures of all the comics I have yet to read. The books in the box that are not bagged and boarded and all the books on the table still in bags. I’ve been reviewing my pull list and cutting back. I fear my interest in this hobby is not long lived and that saddens me even more.
I have been adding to my graded comics collection, this is a small stack I’m considering for my next submission. I love this Mark Brooks variant cover of Uncanny X-men issue 522, the return of Kitty Pryde. Underneath that is a first print of Once and Future; my goodness what a great comic. The first issue made me think of the first episode of the television show Grimm, really good stuff.
I was a bit emotional as I wrote this blog so please forgive the typos. I hope to do better next time and as far as I can tell, there will be a next time.