My sons, Noah (7 at the time) and Luke (5) and I were sitting one morning eating breakfast. Noah- sensing that I was feeling awful that particular morning- turned to me to ask if he or Lukie will get cancer.I was taken aback and scared to answer, but we always try to be open and honest
with the kids (within reason, of course). I told him the truth and said that because it’s “in the family” there’s a chance that one of them may end up getting sick too.But I wanted them to know two things. First, they are way too young to worry about it. If it does happen, it won’t be until they are much, much older and there is no need for them to worry about it right now. Second, if they do get it, by that time there will be a cure and better treatments than what they are watching me go thru, so it won’t be as bad.
Noah looked at me and accepted the answers… after pondering a few seconds on what I said his reply was, “Well if we do get it, I hope I get it so Lukie doesn’t have to go through it.” This happened about half way through my 6 months of chemo for stage 3 colon cancer. To me, it sums up what cancer means to me… an undying selflessness that leads to fight, help and hope.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Todd Haskins and I’m happy to say “I’m a cancer survivor!”
It was February 4th, 2010 when I got the news. Ironically, the timing was doubly terrible. It was just a few days before that my wife left for Pennsylvania to be with her family following her dad’s passing. Here we were, over 400 miles apart and in desperate need for each other. A horrible feeling. Cancer? Why? How? When? What the hell? (OK it wasn’t that clean, but you get the idea). Two weeks later I was going into the hospital for surgery.
Here’s an entry from my blog on my second day back home…
Well as most of you already know, I came home a couple days ago (Might of been Tuesday, I can’t remember).
The whole experience really sucked. I don’t mean that in anyway derogatory toward the staff at St Francis who were wonderful, but just the whole package in general. They ended up taking out a chunk of colon and 15 lymph nodes.First few days laying in bed next to people I don’t know and only able to eat ice chips made me reach for the pain med dispenser button quite a bit..lol.
After a few days they took me off the pain stuff, but I still wasn’t passing anything “down there” so I was forced to stay there eating chicken broth and jello (god, I hope to never eat that crap again).
The worst was night time when you’re “sober” . You don’t realize how much noise the normal day to day shuffle drowns out the “unpleasantries”.
When you’re not all doped up you hear every machine, every bed alarm, every moan from pain and every crying family member who comes in the middle of the night with his/her sick relative. Spent the last two nights there just trying to cry myself to sleep or just aimlessly walking around the hospital at 1:30 in the morning. Finally we were able to get me some help with the sleeping, but by then the damage was done. I was a beaten man at that point.
Anyway, they found the cancer has attacked my lymph nodes (11 of 15… those are pretty crappy odds) so a pretty aggressive chemo program starts in a few weeks. We spoke to the doctor about it and he threw around a lot of medical terms and stuff but at that point I was just ready to go home and didn’t care about the next step.
Spent most of Tuesday in a haze and fog over the whole experience and my insanely strong wife kept me focused and helped me realize I need to be strong to beat this so that’s the way it’s going to have to be….Hit up Dick’s Sporting Goods for a Livestrong Sweatshirt, so now I’m ready, right?.
The crappy thing is that having staples like this (I had gotten 14″ of my colon removed and 16 staples from my belly button to my crotch), means that wearing pants really sucks…and they just don’t make cool bed shirts for men… At least not ones I can wear out to drop Luke off to school in…lol
And then there was the 6 months of chemo.
For those of you who have never been through it, it’s sitting there for 6 hours at a time, getting pricked with needles a lot, dangerous chemicals pumped into your body, feeling like crap for a few days (which gets longer as the program goes on), allergies to meds (of course I was one of 1% of people allergic to a certain family of nausea meds… go figure), depression, joy and confusion, all rolled into one big ball of fun.
Jealous, aren’t you. The weirdest thing was “cold neuropathy”… the chemicals they gave me made it so I couldn’t touch or drink cold. If I did, instant pins and needles. Just in time for summer.
So how do you get through it? To steal a line from Nike, you “just do it”. My family and friends were always there when I needed them. Being a stay at home dad made things a bit easier too.But damn it, if I didn’t have an appointment someplace, I walked them to school, took them to the pool during the summer, and tried to keep things as “normal” as possible. Doing so was really important to my wife and me. You get up every morning, look at cancer in the mirror and say “you won’t beat me today“, then you go off and fight it with everything you have.
I realize that I can go on about this for a really long time. You can all get a better “real time” idea of what fighting and beating cancer is like by reading my blog, Scope That Colon! It’ll give you a better idea of my feelings during it all (and a better taste of my well-documented sense of humor). I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by great family and great friends. Believe it or not, I almost feel like I’m a lucky guy to have gotten cancer. There was a time in my life where maybe I took too much for granted and this experience helped me realize how fortunate and blessed I really am.
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