Part II: Facing death, humility, and shame
Good day everyone,
This is the second part of my story and by next week it should be all caught up. Take some time, get your popcorn, apparently parts of this are hilarious. I have been told by many that this part of the story brings tears, but then causes laughter through those tears. Now, I am going to present the PG version of April 4, 2008 and the first cycle of chemotherapy. Now, if anyone wants to ever experience this, by all means, I would switch places in a second.
So, bright and early at 9:00AM. I had my bags packed and I was ready to start chemo. I didn't know if I would be starting on this Friday morning, April 4, but I had my appointment and my mother and I drove up to the Hillman Cancer Center ready to get it on. I was ready to brawl and beat this thing up. Boy, I was in for a rude awakening.
Now, I went into the center that day thinking that this whole cancer thing was a big joke. It was curable, and not only that, it was highly curable. One visit from the nurse changed that. As she went through the possible side effects some stuck out in my 22-year old mind. Sterilization?? Erectile problems?? Loss of motor skills?? It was my goal to win an Olympic Title and be a father and here I am being told that I may have permanent numbness in my fingertips, that I may lose my lung capacity, that I may not be able to have kids.
The chemo regimen that I am on is the most intense one they can give anyone- and for good measure. The doctor had even scarier news yet. My original chance of surviving this cancer was 50-65%. It was already in its most advanced stage and consisted of a twelve pound tumor between my kidneys, another tumor in my lungs, and another one in my liver. They were still out to lunch on my brain and my testicles. This meant that there as a good chance of castration. Castration mind you. Like I am an animal. I honestly will never neuter another pet as long as I live. I mean this is scary stuff. Imagine, in thirty minutes, that a good outcome would be losing your manhood. If that is not terrible enough, if I kept it, I could go sterile. If that isn't enough, if I made it through and did not, I would be 200 times more likely to give my children birth defects. I felt shattered, hopeless, and like I would never reach my goals. My mother was right beside me and her face was one I will never forget. Here she is and it is a coin flip if she is going to have her son.
Well, one of the downsides of my type of cancer is the trip to the sperm bank. I swear, this is the most humiliating experience of my life and I will share it here. You will probably laugh, and I hope you do. Looking back on it, it is hysterical. At the time...not so much. So, I, already in a sour mood because of the news just received, had to drive to a woman's hospital to give sperm and get more bloodwork done to check for things like AIDS. I was surprised that in the five prior bloodworks they did not check for AIDS, so there I was, the only male patient in a woman's hospital. You might have well put a sign on my head saying "Only here to masturbate". Yeah, so I get all checked in and now that my mother knows that I do what all men do, but hide from their mothers, I received my bag from the girl. The directions were a blur, I only caught about half of them as I fought off wanting to vomit due to the fact that my mother now knew that I masturbated. She, with a timeless motivational speech said, "Now hunny, make sure you don't miss the tube, I know you do not want to go through this again."
I took my key to "private room A" and began my walk of shame to the other side of the hospital. The rooms could not be right around the corner, but through a corridor, down a wing, a left, right, and then I was there. Now here is where I will leave out the obvious, but that directions part comes in handy. I was supposed to leave the bag in the room, but instead, I put my labels on claiming my future kids and preceded to walk, bag in hand all the way back to the registration desk. My mother seen and at that moment I lost all shame. Embarrassed, you betcha. I was told that I had to march my sperm all the way back to the private room which was literally a quarter mile away. I dropped it off and took off back towards the waiting room. My face may still be firetruck red from that experience. It was miserable.
After that I went up to see my brother wrestle for a weekend and came back to start chemo. That Monday I also had a CT scan for brain tumors. It came up negative. Chemo is about an eight hour process and the cycle is three weeks. The first week goes everyday. The second and third weeks are once a week and much shorter (like 2-4 hours of total time).
Well, the next day I had to get an ultrasound of my family jewels. To my luck of course they assign me a 30-year old attractive blonde to administer the examination. It is funny sometimes, I was led to my room and she told me to strip down and left to give me privacy. I could only think that she was going to see all of Adam Frey in about three minutes, why was she acting like the changing into a robe thing was going to effect me. So, there I was, trying to recite the Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup teams backwards alphabetically while I was getting warm lotion rubbed on those family jewels. Women, you probably have no idea about this. Men, you probably have an idea about this. Luckily, I only had a small spot that looks to be just a scar, no lumps, no nothing. I guess I won't be neutered after all.
The day by day on my chemo is under my website at www.adamfrey.us, along with the rest of my story, paraphernalia, and other things. Friday my mother brought ribs, and they missed my vein five times. Think about a two inch needle going all the way into you five times...Miserable.
My first cycle has since ended with a bunch left out, and all in all the cancer has been a learning experience. Trust me, I wish I would have learned the value of life and family and friends without cancer. I hope you all understand that this is something you want to avoid. I guess I was just unlucky, never touching tobacco or drugs in my life. You all have a choice. Please, do whatever you can to avoid being told that you are close to dying and, and maybe worse, having your mother find out about your private life behind closed doors.
Thank You and God Bless,