The beast within

If Uncle Richard could see me now.

Frankly, it’s good he cannot; otherwise, he would be crestfallen.

I have bladder cancer.  And, according to urologist/surgeon Dr. Daniel Janoff, who specializes in this aspect of cellular malignancy at Providence St. Vincent Hospital in Portland, my 40 years of cigarette smoking – which ended on Nov. 14, 2000 because of an inspiration while visiting my now-late uncle – is to blame.

How could that be?  People who smoke are at risk for lung cancer – not this – right?

Wrong.  In my case, almost dead wrong.

But I’m lucky.  My cancer was caught early, due to a urinary tract infection (UTI) that required over two months of antibiotics.  Since I had a history of UTIs over 10 years in Pennsylvania – relegated by a urologist there as prostate-related – I underwent a standard surgical procedure here, known as a TURP.  While under the non-invasive laser, a tumor was detected and sent to pathology.

Janoff was quickly direct.  “You have cancer,” he announced, as a matter of fact.  I appreciate the news wasn’t sugarcoated.  And I am planning on following doctors’ orders and the road ahead.

Bladder cancer exposed

This particular grade of cancer is aggressive and vicious.  I write this post as a warning to anyone who smokes corporately manufactured cigarettes.

It’s not the nicotine that causes bladder cancer, Janoff says.  The chemical additives purposely put in cigarettes to enhance their addiction are to blame.

I credit the use of cannabis in 2000 for enabling me to quit tobacco products.  I even wrote a poem about it in 2006 dedicated to my uncle (the poem needs further editing to develop a more consistent meter, but it’s time for these preliminary lyrics to see the light of day):

“Muir Woods”©2006
by Mason Loika

I hugged a redwood tree and smoke came down,
His brother, the Devil, issued warning sounds,
So I gotta experience my epiphany
And declare myself tobacco-smoke free.

Redwoods been ’round since time began,
Way before the first human,
Poisons can kill both trees and men,
The question’s not if but rather when,

I hugged a redwood tree and smoke came down,
His brother, the Devil, issued warning sounds,
So I gotta experience my epiphany
And declare myself tobacco-smoke free.

Light up a monster and breathe deep the scent
How deep shall it go till the intrusion is spent
Enough is enough, how sick must you get?
Blocked windpipes and cancer are a good bet.

I hugged a redwood tree and smoke came down,
His brother, the Devil, issued warning sounds,
So I gotta experience my epiphany
And declare myself tobacco-smoke free.

Next time you light up, better think again,
You won’t feel better, cigarettes ain’t your friend,
Wheezing and coughing, hear my point of view,
Smoking’s no good if it takes something from you!

I hugged a redwood tree and smoke came down,
His brother, the Devil, issued warning sounds,
So I gotta experience my epiphany
And declare myself tobacco-smoke free.

The road ahead

I began the first of four rounds of chemotherapy on June 29; it continues Wednesday, July 6.  Each round consists of three weekly injections through my blood stream.  After the final injection, I am given a week off, preparing for the next round to begin.  That means each round takes four weeks.

Needless to say, chemo can get old in a short time.  But I will persevere, and eventually undergo a major operation in Portland.  How appropriate, eh?  Was I a real pisser growing up?  Irony serves as my dearest companion.

I sense that Creator became impatient with my lack of written copy for a book I had set my sights on producing.  This way, I am being given a divine deadline to meet.  Deadlines are a writer’s curse – as well as a blessing – because they force a writer with a work in progress to eventually say, “It’s done.”

Well, the work needs to be done, before I am done, right?  And so on Independence Day 2016, I announce that I will charge ahead – into the wonderful world of oblivion – because that’s how we were meant to live life.

As someone once wrote, “Growing old is not for wimps.”

Photo above by Spitzi.

9 thoughts on “The beast within”

  1. We are watching out for you here in Florida, Mason. If you need help, please don’t hesitate to call on us Southern gals. We love you.

  2. Mason, Well… you do look dapper in that IV rig! You and me and Star Wars, “May the Force Be With You”!!! Love, B

  3. Soldier on Cousin…and look sharp about it- my dad is watching! He’d be rooting mightily for you too. Each day we will think of you and hold good thoughts for the best outcome to this piece of your journey. Write to keep your ship right. Lots of love- stephanie

  4. May you have fair winds and following seas on this journey. The Dog apples will be flying. Our thoughts and prayers are with you for a speedy recovery.

  5. So sad to hear what you are going through. Leave it to you, Mason, to make lemonade out of lemons. You and your full recovery will remain in my thoughts and prayers. xoxoxo

  6. Sending Light Strength and Joy with your healing process. I am glad you are in a beautiful place in the country that’s more relaxed than the east coast. The best to Alice too.

  7. Dear Mason, You are such a special man. I am so glad we reunited as family should after all those years! You are strong and you can make it through this. I will help you in any way that you need. I am here for Alice also, it has to be hard for her .Just let me know what you need, honestly. I love you both. You are doing what you need to, God and the universe will supply the rest.?

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