Cancer commentary #3

Patient “B.D.”

When you get to be older everything that happens to you physically makes you worry more, like, “Is this the big one?” kind of thing. I thought I was having or had a heart attack, but then after going to the doctor they ran a bunch of tests and told me that everything was fine. Their idea of fine is a little different from mine, though, because not long after I’d been declared “fine” I passed out and was carted off in an ambulance and then the doctors gave me a very thorough look-over and said yes, they were right all along, I was fine.

They were so sure I was fine that they wanted me to go to the City, where someone else would probably also find out I was fine, but NYC is a long haul from my home and our car is on its last legs and the only thing worse than being afraid you’re going to die from some mystery disease is knowing you’ll die if you break down on the Turnpike. Plus, the doctors just send you around from hospital to hospital like you don’t have a job, like it doesn’t cost a fortune to stay in a hotel and eat at restaurants when you’re out of town, so we just gave up.

I finally got in to see a local doc who said that I wasn’t fine at all, in fact, I would die from acute leukemia without immediate treatment. The only thing that will save me is a stem cell transplant, and there’s exactly one perfect match for me, that’s my brother, and he’s in prison. If you think fighting cancer is hard, if you think fighting insurance companies is hard, if you think fighting the medical system is hard, wait til you have to fight the prison system. They have the word “No” down to an art form.

It has all worked out though because this week I will get the transplant. My little brother may be in jail, but he’s a hero in my book, maybe he made bad choices and is paying for them, but he is there for me, he has accomplished more as a giving and generous person than lots of people on the outside ever will.

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