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Dealing with Reality…

by Michael Terry
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Well this is a great way to start off the year.  Let’s depress everyone, shall we?  

I’ll just say that 2020 went out with a giant “Eff You!”, and now, January 22nd, 2021 I’m finally ready to talk about it.  Consider it therapeutic… or just cleansing, but here’s the story.

Somewhere around Halloween I was moving some heavy furniture.  I hurt my back and neck , so a week later when the muscles in my neck swelled up I didn’t think anything of it.  it was pretty uncomfortable.

Fast forward to the week before Thanksgiving.  I was at my acupuncture appointment, getting poked, and told him to concentrate on my neck, which was swollen and sore.

As always, after a bit my pain drifted away.  (“ahhhhhhhh”)  After awhile he came in to take the needles out of my body and said, “Do me a favor…get that checked”.

 Now for the record, I hate doctors.  I avoid them at any cost.  And I was convinced that my neck issues were caused by a pulled muscle.  No big deal.  So I really can’t say why I went to urgent care that night, but something told me to go.  And I did.

My wife and I drove down to Urgent Care.  The place was packed – as usual… with mask wearing snifflers and sneezers, hacking their way through the lobby.   I contemplate, while I wait, just how long it will be before COVID materializes in me once I’m out of there…  But I digress.

So finally after an eternity, they call my name, and my wife jumps up to go with me.  They block her efforts…Denied! 

So into the room I go.  And wait another 45 minutes for the doctor to come in.  Am I building suspense?

Anyway, the doctor, who was actually a PA, (and looked to be all of 30 years old), looks me over, picks and prods a little,  and declares he wants labs done.  So off I go to the lab.

And then we wait.   Another eternity.  Finally they call my name.  They look at my wife and said, Uh… you’d better come too.  She turned white.  I was oblivious.  Back to the room I go.

The pre-pubescent PA then walks back in, and with all the emotion of a request to pass the butter he says, “Mr. Terry, you’ve got cancer.

Excuse me?

I said you have CANCER.

And that was that.  

Well, as you can imagine, that stopped me dead in my tracks.  You know, the old saying “my life flashed before my eyes”, well, that about summed it up.  I went through every little bit of my life, playing on swings, putting together Christmas presents for my daughters, sitting at a bar with a drink in my hand watching a band play…. 

I looked at my wife, tears were welling up in her eyes.  I put my hand on her leg, squeezed, and asked all the proper questions.

“What in the hell?  are you sure?”  You know, the stuff that you want to know.

He assured me, (that even though he was not old enough to shave yet), that it was in fact, Cancer.  Lymphoma, to be precise.

Me:  “Lymphoma?  What the hell is that?”

Leukemia, he says without missing a step.  “I checked with the Oncologist”.

Well, shit.  Someone who actually graduated from Med School diagnosed me.  Check, and mate.  

Did I mention that this was two days before Thanksgiving….  Well, shit.

My wife cried all the way home, and when we got there, my waterworks opened up as well.  

I returned home with the promise that an Oncologist would call me in the next day or so, so not only did I NOT get to enjoy Thanksgiving with all of our family, but also with a sense of impending doom, burdened with the reality of my approaching death.

Ok. so that sounds a bit melodramatic, I get that, but seriously all I knew at that moment in time was that I had cancer.  And my neck was swollen worse than a 400 pound linebacker.

On with my story…

I can’t even imagine what my wife was going through inside, but on the outside there were a lot of tears, an lot of concern and a lot of love.  I seriously could not have pulled through that week without her.

The Cancer Doc finally called me, who is an upbeat, positive and cheery guy.  I was in no mood for it.  I needed answers and needed them quick.

He speculated as to what it was, and said he wanted a whole series of blood work and a CT scan, and bla bla bla…   so more waiting.  Back to the hospital I go.

(I know, the suspense is building)

After all the worry, picking and prodding, blood test after blood test, the verdict is in.

I have a form of Leukemia called CLL.  Before you, dear reader, begin to weep for me, come to find out it is about the best outcome (under the circumstances) I could hope for.  

Yes, I have Cancer.  Full blown horrible Cancer.  But…  CLL is one of the slowest growing and easiest to treat forms of Cancer.

Come to find out, I’ve had it for years, it just now got to the point where it woke up in my body and said hello.  I am in stage 1, so we caught it when it is fully treatable.

The bad side though, is there is no cure.  I will live with it forever.  And yes, someday, it will take me out. – But according to the docs and what I’ve read, that could be 20 or 30 years from now.

Actually, I understand that most people who die with CLL don’t die of the Cancer, but actually of related things, like Pneumonia, as the treatment lessens your immune system.  Go figure.

So that certainly made Christmas a little easier on me and my family.  My daughter Mariah certainly sleeps better at night….

So where do I go from here.

Treatment is pretty easy.  I take a pill each morning. – That’s it.  One miracle pill.  And I have to get stabbed every few weeks because the medicine can have a whole plethora of bad side affects.

Oh.  The last part of my treatment is to enjoy every single moment that I have on the big blue marble, because who knows what tomorrow will bring.

It is now mid January, 2021, and I’m doing ok.  Not back to 100% of myself, but weighing the alternatives… I’ll take it.  So I’ve given up drinking, getting my weight down, trying to be a little nicer to people (I know, that one’s a stretch), and just getting on with my life.

Anna and I are making huge plans for this year, and all we’re going to accomplish together.

Thanks for following along.  There’s nothing worse than listening to an old man whine about his aches and pains…


I need to say a few things before I end this tome.  You’ve come this far, you might as well keep reading…  It’s almost over.

I cannot express enough the love and admiration that I have for my beautiful wife, who (while secretly dying a million deaths inside) has been a rock for me, and a never ending voice of positive energy that has helped me get through this blip in our life.

Next, for the love and support that I have received form my four daughters.  When the chips were down you all came to me with your love,  especially Maya, who may as well have gotten this right along with me, and who still checks on me each and every day.  You are the glimmer in my eye.  Loves.

And last, to my Sister Karen, who has been a pillar of support, and even though she’s got a handful raising two active and rambunctious kids, just moved into a new home, is telecommuting on top of her wifely and motherly duties, and has not one moment to herself these days, takes the time to call me each evening, just to check up on me, have a chat, share a few laughs and let me know she cares….Love you Sis.

I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by the love and support that I have around me.  OK.   Now I’m done.

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