No Time to Feel Sorry for Myself – Let’s Get After It!

I don’t like it when friends, family say “I’m sorry.”

I have cancer.

There are three words no one ever expects to write. So, when I share that news with those I love and care about, and I’d like to think care about me, I know they are at a loss for words.


Oncologist suggested I go ahead and cut my hair short – I did.

“I’m sorry” is a natural expression of empathy for the process any cancer patient must go through to achieve full remission and good health. “I’m sorry” certainly isn’t an apology. But it makes me uncomfortable any way. I need to get over that.

Being the first post, let’s get past a professional writing thing. I was in the newspaper business for years, mentoring young journalists for 20 of those years. I am now a college newspaper advisor. I’ve told them for years not to write in first person, even in opinion columns. Well, this very personal blog requires first person so let’s get that out of the way.

I woke up one morning a little more than a month ago and noticed a lump in my groin. My first instinct was that I had a hernia. I waited a few weeks until I woke up one morning and the lump was tender – and bigger. I got to the doctor within two days, then in the following week had a CT Scan, Ultrasound for a biopsy and gave lots of blood to local friendly nurses. Then Friday, April 17, 2015, the intial blood test returned and my personal physician called and confirmed earlier suspicions that I had Lymphoma. Speficially, I have been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins B-Cell Lymphoma. I get my final diagnosis Monday.

My reaction, frankly, surprised me. I had no reaction. My feelings were more, ‘okay let’s deal with this and get on with it.’ Or, as one friend called it, “The John Wayne syndrome.”

The week that followed was lots of needles, another CT Scan, a PET scan, and an “installation.”

The “installation’ was a power port. It’s a surgical procedure to place a small port – about the size of a quarter – underneath the skin on the upper right side of my chest not far from the clavicle. That port allows nurses to draw blood, give me injections, and obviously chemotherapy with out having to poke me repeatedly. The port feeds one of the largest blood veins in the body allowing the chemotherapy to get to work that much quicker.

lymphoma-ribbon150I gave lots of folks lots of crap about the word ‘installation.’ You have a dishwasher installed. If you’re cutting on my chest, let’s just come up with a better word!

One thing I won’t do in this blog is explain a lot of the technical stuff, because I don’t understand it all yet either. I’ll link things up and talk about my experience. You can Google the technical stuff, and from my early experience, believe somewhere between 40- to 85-percent of what you read.

My best advice before chemo – ask the nurses your questions. Read for a couple days then stop. I’m getting a support team in place. I can’t begin to express the gratitude one feels when so many friends want to help but are not sure how to do it. It’s a little overwhelming honestly.

Tonight, I’m going to dinner with my dearest friend. Chemo is likely to start middle of the coming week. She’s calling tonight my “Launch Party.” Why Not? I wish I had thought of it.

I haven’t felt sorry for myself yet. I haven’t, honestly, been very emotional yet.

I’ve been called stubborn, hard-headed, and a few other things throughout my career. Most of the time that was accurate. Finally my obstinance can be put to work for a good cause – me.

Let’s get after it!

About Howard

After most of my career in the newspaper business I joined higher education, working in Public Affairs. I write mostly about value wine. I have now taken early retirement and work part-time in a small boutique, retail wine shop in Indianapolis
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2 Responses to No Time to Feel Sorry for Myself – Let’s Get After It!

  1. ray moscowitz says:

    Well said. Exactly the right attitude you need. I can empathize with you.


  2. Gary says:

    I wouldn’t expect you to react any other way. You’re the “just do it” guy. As a mentor, you teach us to just get it done. I’m of course here to support you through the journey.


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