“Life is like a train. You expect delays from time to time but not a derailment.” (Willie Stargell)


It was 18 years ago this week that my life almost derailed. I found out I had testicular cancer and I immediately had surgery to remove the tumor. I think I experienced every possible emotion that week; fear of death, worry for my family, uncertainty, sadness and then humor and elation. I really didn’t know much about cancer before this revelation but I got acquainted with the subject very quickly, once I knew what was coming. In retrospect, it might have been one of the best things that ever happened to me.

I think the speed at which the process took place helped me get through it as painlessly as possible. I found out I had it on a Tuesday and went under the knife on Friday. I showed up at the hospital bright and early and went through all the preparations pretty quickly. The nurse offered me something “to take the edge off” and boy was that fun. In my particular case, taking the edge off, was like Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I turned into the most uninhibited stand-up comic, of all time. I don’t remember anything specifically but I’ve never seen so many people in a hospital laughing hysterically. I even asked for a magic marker, so I could draw a giant “X” marks the spot on my groin. Now that I think about it, it probably wasn’t a good idea to make the nurse, who was shaving me, laugh so hard she couldn’t hold the blade steady. My wife kept trying to keep me quiet but she was no help whatsoever.

A few hours later, I woke up in another strange room and laid there a while longer trying to remember what had been so funny before. Everybody seemed to know me and I got a lot of strange looks from the staff. They kept asking me if I needed more painkillers and if I wanted to stay overnight. I finally managed to clear my head enough to realize it would be better for everybody if I got out of there. I dressed myself and walked slowly out the door. It was vaguely reminiscent of the day after my 21st birthday during college with lots of people, I didn’t know, saying what a great time we all had.

I took a long weekend to recuperate and went back to work on Tuesday of the next week. By the next Friday, I was in Chicago for a trade show. I never even went back to the urologist for a follow-up visit. I did spend the next 2 years having CT-scans, X-Rays and blood tests but I’ve been cancer-free ever since. Looking back, it was definitely a turning point in my life. When I think of all the things I might have missed, if I hadn’t lived, it’s pretty shocking to consider. If it taught me anything it’s this, don’t wait to live your life. And moreover, don’t ever hesitate to tell people you love them, you might not get another chance. As for me, I might even suggest testicular cancer as a cure for the male’s mid-life crisis.  Now I’m only half as nuts as I used to be.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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3 Responses to “Life is like a train. You expect delays from time to time but not a derailment.” (Willie Stargell)

  1. DAb says:

    “Only half as nuts as you used to be?” brings to mind the fact that so many in today’s leadership roles—Corporate, Government, Churches & Schools—act as if they went under the knife; and lost at least 50% of their “innate fortitude”!

    • grhgraph says:

      In my own case, I think Leftie really picked up the slack after Ralph got axed. I wonder if my cancer had anything to do with all those times I said, “I’d give my left nut for another beer.”

  2. Amy P. says:

    What a great lesson from a scary time in your life. Thanks for sharing!

    In response to “don’t ever hesitate to tell people you love them, you might not get another chance,” I do this with Jason every day. No matter how irritated, frustrated, or exhausted I am with life, I must do this otherwise I feel incomplete, I can’t relax. With the line of work he’s in, nothing is certain except that he will have to deal with stupid people for at least 8 hours or more. From almost day one of our relationship, we always (and I do mean always) say “I love you. Until then. *kiss*” then either “be safe” (me to him before he goes off to work) or “sweet dreams” (when he has the night off), then “good night.” Being a LEO wife has its ups and downs, but it has taught me to appreciate the small things in life.

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