Shore About One Thing

“Want to get away?” No. Not usually. I’m more of a home body than I am an awayfrom-home-body. But occasionally, even I have the urge to get up and go. And now that I’ve come up with a system to safely transport the 50 pills-plus I ingest daily, I feel less constrained by my previous limitations (how does one pack up/plan for travelling with 20-plus bottles of pills worth an estimated $200? In a car? OKAY. But on a plane? If I do carry them on, are that many bottles/type of content even allowed? Do I carry on a day’s worth and pack the rest? Would a note from my oncologist help? If I checked my luggage instead, what if the luggage get’s lost?). So I’m now using bank envelopes (the kind used by the drivethrough tellers) to segregate my a.m. and p.m. pills. As James Whitmore (as Brooks) in “Shawshank Redemption” said to Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) about distributing the library books to the inmates: “Easy peasy. Japaneasy.” In effect, no fuss, no muss. As a result, I feel as if I’ve regained some control over my life (always a good thing for a cancer patient).

Ergo, I am now sitting poolside in New Jersey at my wife, Dina’s, cousin’s beach house. My pills are “enveloped” in our bedroom, my alkaline water (another transportation problem which I have not yet solved) is “galloned” in the fridge and my usual and customary anxiety is back home in Maryland. And if there’s one thing a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy needs, it’s relief, maybe even relocation from all that is usual and customary. Not that you ever forget — for one second, your diagnosis/original prognosis/abbreviated life expectancy, but it “sure beats Bermuda off season” as the old adage rationalizes.

So, even though I’m not exactly fat and happy, neither am I skinny and miserable. And for a cancer patient originally characterized as “terminal” (by my oncologist), not being ‘skinny and miserable’ is all it’s cracked up to be and I mean that sincerely and serenely. And though I’m not yelling “Serenity Now” at the top of my lungs to reduce stress as Frank Costanza was advised to do and did, on a long-ago Seinfeld episode, I am feeling “unencumbered” (to quote one of my father’s favorite words) and can’t help wondering: what took me so long?

But I know what took me so long. Me, myself and I; that’s who, and my commitment to maintaining my pill regimen/consumption — for fear of upsetting my emotional apple cart. Other than the regular/recurring infusions I’ve experienced over the past seven-plus years, the second most constant anti-cancer routine I’ve embraced has been my non-prescription supplements (most recently adding Chinese wormwood and Indian ashwagandha, while dropping N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine). For all I know, my unexpected survival has had as much to do with my pills as it has had to do with my chemotherapy? Finding a way after all these years to maintain this status quo might hopefully/presumably allow me to live longer and prosper and perhaps enhance my life, maybe even extend it. Besides, “I’m too young to die. Too handsome. Well, too young, anyway.”

I realize I may be making a mountain out of a mole hill here. Nevertheless, when the adversary is cancer, specifically a heretofore incurable form of cancer: non-small cell lung cancer, stage IV, any port in this storm is much appreciated. For the moment it seems, finally, I am ready, willing and able to continue the fight away from home – should the opportunity present itself.

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