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Monday, June 10, 2013

In Which I'm Hating On The C-Word

My brother has cancer.

A surreal statement I never expected to utter. A couple weeks ago, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I spoke with Buddy at length, and he's dealing with it quite nicely. He's positive, hopeful and ever pragmatic. Taking it one step at a time. He is to undergo further testing in the form of an MRI and bone scan to determine if the cancer is isolated...or not.


Cancer has been a little too familiar lately. My cousin, Mish has been battling breast cancer since last July. There are apparently a thousand different forms of breast cancer. Okay, maybe just around 20, but still. Hers was contained in one bastard of a tumor which was surgically removed without a hitch. But hers is an aggressive type, so the doctors bombarded her with massive amounts of chemo and then radiation over the course of the last ten months.

She has faced her cancer with candor, grace and humor. Bravely posting updates, milestones and photos of her beautiful, bald head on Facebook for support, because dammit, what's social media for if not to receive comfort, encouragement and reassurance from friends and family in one's time of need.

Her port into which the nurses injected her with a poisonous radioactive cocktail was finally removed several weeks ago. A HUGE milestone for any cancer patient. She is finally back to work, feeling stronger, slowly getting her life back. I'm ecstatic to say she's cancer free now. She's a survivor, but there is and ever shall be a kernel of fear in the back of her (and our) mind(s) that at some point in the future this insatiable mutation will rear its butt-ugly head and ravage a different part of her body. There's a chance her cancer will not go quietly into the night.


My head knows prostate cancer is extremely curable, especially if caught early, which my brother's was, (Thank you PSA blood test!) and yet, I don't know how I feel about all of this. If I follow my gut instincts, the calm reaction of my body is telling me everything will work out just fine, and there's no need to worry. Much like on 9/11 when I knew deep down in my gut, my nephew was safe from the horror of the falling buildings. The medical experts in Manhattan will remove the offending cells from my brother, and he'll be good to go for decades longer. I want to go with that. I prefer to go with that. I NEED to go with that.

He's my only brother. I love him with all my heart. He is NOT expendable.

Buddy has had a challenging year thus far. His thriving electrical contracting business in the Hudson Valley has basically dried up, leaving him no choice but to sell off the equipment of his life's work, one unit at a time, to the highest bidder. I don't care how strong or practical you are, that's gotta sting. And now he's facing this.

The good news is both his kids' college educations and his properties are paid for in full. Unencumbered by deadlines and client demands, this unexpected free time will enable him to focus on his wellness without distraction or outside stress.

Sometimes a hardship is a blessing. Sometimes the Universe does you a solid, and gives you exactly what you need without you realizing it at the time.

My brother has cancer, but I know he's going to beat the SHIT out of that fucker. He's a fighter. A baddass. And you better believe all us crazy Italians are going to be standing by him every step of the way. He and Mish are going to be around for a loooooong time. So you can just suck it, Cancer!

For the love of your own private gender parts, you menfolk, get a PSA test EVERY YEAR. And ladies, save the TaTas. Get your annual mammogram. It won't just save your girls, it'll save your life.