In the summer of 2004, something happened that created a bit more urgency in my desire to buy a newspaper.
I got cancer.
After a routine checkup with a new doctor in Rochester, it was discovered that I had colon cancer. Just nine days after my colonoscopy, I went to Rochester General Hospital and had two-thirds of my colon removed (I joked after my surgery that I now had a semicolon). On Friday, Aug. 13, my doctor informed me that it appeared the cancer was Stage I and had limited itself to the inside wall of my colon, and he declared me cancer-free. On that same day, Nicola had gone in for her first ultrasound that told her she was pregnant with our second child.
I would like to say that having cancer had a profound effect on my life, but in a lot of ways, it really didn’t.
First of all, as I like to tell people, I really only had cancer for nine days. From the time I was told I definitively had cancer to the day that it was removed, it was all of nine days. I did not have radiation or chemotherapy, I did not lose my hair, I did not go through any of what so many cancer patients go through.
Second, I have a somewhat morose personality to begin with. I’ve always felt that tragedy is just around the corner, waiting to unfairly snatch happiness out of the lives of undeserving people. Because of this, I have lived my life in a couple of very important ways: I try to make decisions so that I don’t have regrets and I immensely enjoy the very simple act of living. Cancer didn’t change that, it merely enhanced it. I already felt that life was fragile and I have always had a fine appreciation of life. I’ve also lived my life as if I could die in the near future. So I’ve done seemingly crazy things, like become a stock broker, take a job in New Mexico, move to San Francisco without a job. Buying a newspaper was simply another seemingly crazy thing to do.