By BJ Reyes
So this week and next marks the "anniversary" of when I was diagnosed with bone cancer. The year was 1985.† I was hoping to mark the occasion next year by celebrating 30 years of cancer-free living, but then thyroid cancer had to show up last July and ruin that. (Stupid cancer!!?) Alas, I'll have to settle for only marking 30 years since since defeating bone cancer.
Why two weeks? Unfortunately, memories are a bit fuzzy and I am not exactly sure of the precise date. I am piecing these dates together backwards from Feb. 14, 1985, which I am almost certain was the very first chemotherapy treatment. Subtract a week from that, when I believe the biopsy was performed, and that puts the detection date at or around Feb. 7. Roughly a week before that would be when we first went to the Cleveland Clinic for x-rays and the initial consult with doctors who first told us the swelling in my right thigh was very likely a tumor.
I have always used Feb. 7, 1985 as the date for celebrating my cancer "anniversary" - the day that it all began.
Here, then, is what I believe I would have posted had this blog existed 29 years ago.‡ Think of it as an extended version of Doogie Howser's computer journal that he did at the end of every episode. I'll probably do at least one more of these "flashbacks" for other key dates from 1985. (Please bear with me. I would have been a 13-year-old eighth grader at the time, so obviously my typing and grammar wouldn't be as good as they will come off here, but I'll try to capture some of the scattered-ness of my thoughts as I recall them.)
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Feb. 1, 1985
So this was a long day. We spent all morning and afternoon at the Cleveland Clinic. That place is HUGE! First I had x-rays and then an MRI, which lasted about an hour. I think I fell asleep, though, so it wasn't as bad or as boring as they said it would be.
They said I was lucky though. My brother kicked me in the thigh at tae kwon do class last week and then my knee kind of buckled in gym class, too. We got an x-ray at Southwest, where my mom works, and then we went to my sister's gymnastics place to see their team doctor, who also works for the Clinic and is the team doctor for the Browns. He suggested we go to the Clinic.
It's a little scary. My mom seemed a little worried when she told the Clinic doctors that the x-ray people thought it might be a tumor. I wasn't sure what that was at first, but then one of the doctors mentioned that it could be cancerous. They don't know how I got it. But they will start chemotherapy on it next week, so I have to take the week off from school.
It all sounds complicated. They told me they will go into an artery in my thigh and shoot the medicine directly at the tumor to shrink it. Once they shrink it, they will do a bone implant with a steel femur, knee and hip. I might lose my hair and I will probably get sick.
All of the doctors were very nice. But one scared me when the first thing he did was look me in the eye and say "We're gonna lick this thing! You and I. We're gonna beat it. We'll make sure of that. " I wasn't sure what he was talking about, because I didn't know a tumor meant cancer.
So after meeting with all the doctors, the last thing we did was go for the MRI scan. Then we went to Ponderosa.
They're not sure how much school I'm going to miss, but sounds like it might be a lot.
** It's a shame that here in 1985, nothing exists where I can tell all my friends about this all at one time. There should be some kind of mail system that I can do on a computer. Electronics are complicated though. Who would ever think of doing a sort of "electronic mail" that would reach my friends all at the same time. Maybe someone can invent something that. **
† - "A maturing Joe Piscopo left Saturday Night Live to conquer Hollywood. PEOPLExpress introduced a generation of hicks to plane travel. And I was in a barbershop quarter."
‡ - Of course, had I known then that I would become a journalist, I may have had the wherewithal to keep a journal. As it is, I may have to spend an afternoon in the CCF medical record archives to find out how accurate my memories are.
** - Creative embellishment =)