How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Live with CancerPosted on Mon, Dec 19, 2011

Wait, Jiffy-Pop isn't the microwave kind?

Dear Friends and Family,

I’m done with chemo! Actually, the phrase Dr. Keohan used was “paused” because nothing is ever final in this funhouse, but I am now about 7 weeks out from my last treatment!  After much consideration, we decided to not pursue the last round. She reminded me that the goal had always been to purge my body of any possible little angry creepy cells floating around my body looking for a rumble, not to eliminate the actual tumor remaining in my right lung. So we moved the goal-post and declared victory.

And my Christmas wish has come true: I am now the proud owner of two bouncing baby eyebrows! They’re still so blonde they’re white, but I wiggle them at every opportunity. I have even started shaving again, as my face looked like I was a teenage boy trying to grow his first beard.

With chemo was out of the way, what remained was the question of what to do about this annoying, now much-reduced lump of cells in my right lung. So I went to talk with Dr. Finley, who, for those of you keeping score, was the man helpful enough to cut the other two out. Turns out, because of where it’s placed, right at the main airway where my lung is anchored, he can’t operate without removing the upper half of my right lung. Ooh! Ooh! I know the answer to that one! No.

Which is when he told me about the Jiffy-Pop method.

Apparently, someone came up with a little instrument that is a giant needle with a tiny little umbrella at the end of it. Once inserted, this umbrella opens up and generates microwaves that cook those little suckers into a succulent meal. Sorry, no, it just kills them. He said he would consult with this “Interventional Radiologist”, which is his nickname for it, but he’s not fooling anyone. He didn’t tell me the doctor’s name, so I dubbed this faceless doctor Dr. Jiffy-Pop.

After a few fun-filled weeks of waiting, I sat down with the infamous Dr. Jiffy-Pop and he showed me a timeline of my tumor, starting in the Spring when it was decided it had crossed the line from nothing to something. At its peak, it showed up as this giant white blot between my main airway and a rather large blood vessel. My last scan showed it as a shriveled up memory of its former self, dried up like a raisin in the sun, like a dream deferred. Yes, I’ve read a poem.

While it is entirely possible, Dr. Jiffy-Pop goes, for him to stick a long needle in me and burn this mass of yuckiness out, it’s also possible that all we are seeing is dead tissue which will be re-absorbed into my body. If he hadn’t shown me all the pretty pictures, I wouldn’t have believed him. There are benefits and risks of burning it out, and in waiting. But the risks are far less if we just wait to see what the tumor does.

So, Cancer, I’ve got a scan in January and a long needle with your name on it. It’s your move. Make my day.

Love in a warm snuggly blanket,

– Ben

Categorized as Zipperlist Updates

About the Author

An actor trained in physical theater, living in New York City, livin' the dream. I am married to an amazing woman without whom I'd probably be dead by now, and step-dad to the irrepressible Izzy! I sculpt masks, I juggle, I act, I design graphically-type-stuff, and when offered the choice between two evils, I take the one I've never tried before. I listen, I fly planes, I bike to the beach, I am a tea brewing ninja, I design new board games with my daughter, and I tell stories... too many stories. And while I used to be trying to learn to juggle my work, living in this city, my dreams, my wife, but now I am reminded every day they are all one, all my life, and every day is one more day I get to live it.

Comments (One Response)

  • Chris Petrus says:

    Hi Ben!

    So happy to hear the good news! I enjoyed reading your blogs…you really should do some publishing. You are a gifted writer!

    Best of luck always!

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