My New Friend, Cancer

There’s an old Who song (but then, aren’t they all?) wherein Mr. Townshend wonders how many friends has he really got. If you want to find out the answer to this question in your own tiny life, get cancer. Any type will do, really, but just make sure it’s of the documented and doctor-approved variety. Mine happens to be prostate, which, although it is a common, garden-variety type cancer, still qualifies as something serious and “not-to-be-taken-lightly”. As my urologist said, it’s like being a little bit pregnant; you either are or you aren’t. With cancer, you’ve either got it or you don’t. Nobody “sort of” has cancer.

I already had had a prostate biopsy that turned up negative, so when I visited my doctor after the second one I was fully expecting similar results, namely that my prostate, although the size of a gorilla’s testicle instead of that of a walnut, was merely inflamed and not housing any of those nasty “C” beings. Nope. I was calmly informed that one of the twenty-four needle cores that had been unceremoniously shot into my semen machine had turned up malignant and I would need some sort of treatment to be rid of the errant cells.

A prostate biopsy is a wonderful gift to mankind and a gentle pleasure for the patient, said no man ever. For starters, an attractive young female nurse tells you to take everything off except your socks, which is mildly exciting until she hands you the scratchy blue hospital gown and tells you to put it on with the opening facing the back. So you do. Five minutes later she leads your chilly buns and your little stocking feet out of the changing room and into the doctor’s wonderfully clean operating area, whereupon she has you lie down on your left side, thereby exposing your shiny, white ass to the full glare of both the harsh doctor’s-office lighting and the bemused gaze of the attractive young nurse. I’m quite sure young nurses are totally unfazed at the sight of yet another pair of elderly butt cheeks, but it was nonetheless pretty weird for me.

Then the doctor came in, thankfully not reeking of gin, and proceeded to pull out what looked like a swordfish brontosaurus dildo while I lay on the table. This huge, medieval-looking device is designed to be greased up and shoved deep into a grown man’s tender, aging bungie-hole.

“Oh shit,” I said.

“It’ll be fine,” said the doctor, whose name, believe it or not, is Heinemann.

“For you, perhaps,” I said. The pretty nurse smiled.

Well, shove it in he did, ow ow ow ow ow, and let me tell ya, the procedure is just as awkward and humiliating as I’ve described. The dinosaur dildo takes up a LOT of room in your downstairs, and once it’s snuggled in there it shoots a tiny, hollow needle into your prostate. Twelve times. Granted, the soothing shot of rectal anesthesia beforehand mitigates most of the sharp pain, but it still feels like an angry midget has charged through your sphincter and is viciously punching you in the taint with pointy brass knuckles. And the whole time Mr. Funny Guy doctor is making jokes and you’re actually laughing because the whole situation is WAY more horrible than you ever imagined and you’ve got a pretty nurse girl watching you go through the whole business to boot.

I waddled out of that horror about a half hour later and got the sad results in about ten days. Oh shit again. One of the twenty-four (twelve times two) ass core samples had come back bad, finally, which explained why my PSA score was beginning to look like a Met relief pitcher’s ERA. My choices for treatment were:

1. Active surveillance, a process whereby I get the aforementioned butthole invasion every six months, or every year, depending on which doctor you’re talking to. Then they just wait around till I get more cancer. Or not. If I do, they move to numbers two or three, which are

2. Radiation treatment, where they either shoot me with lasers or implant little bitty radioactive seeds into my porthole region (which I guess frightens away the cancer cells, or something like that), or . . .

3. Prostatectomy, which means rip the squishy little sucker outta there once and for all.

Now, radiation seems rather benign when compared with having your ass torn open like a damp Christmas package, but what happens with the radiation is that it welds your bladder and your diseased prostate to your pubic bone while it’s wailing on Mr. Cancer, which means if he decides on a return visit, the ensuing prostatectomy now has to address a region that’s essentially been crazy-glued together into a pink, fleshy clump. Not good. The computer-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (ahem), on the other hand, is a done deal. Once the procedure has proceeded, there’s no PSA, no prostate to get cancer. You spend several weeks leaking into bags and pads and onto mattresses, and praying that your oldest, one-eyed friend will be able to stand proud and tall on his one leg again, but after that’s all done you have no chance of ever getting prostate cancer ever again, because you ain’t got one no more. Piece of cake.

People in my life have reacted to news of my latest fun adventure in several different ways. My incredible wife, of course, has been wonderfully supportive, loving, and File:Day 294 of 365 - Friendship.jpgunderstanding. Without her, I probably wouldn’t give a shit at all about treatment or anything else and just let the damned thing rot out of me.

My brother and his wife are similarly, genuinely concerned. They offered sound medical advice and in fact are helping to cart my aging carcass out of New York City (a horrible place to live but a GREAT place for surgery) when the operation is finished and my insurance company throws me out of the bed. My gratitude for their love and kindness cannot be adequately expressed.

Other friends and family members have offered help and shown interest to varying degrees. Some have made time to share meals with me and ask how I’m REALLY doing, face-to-face. These are the folks I treasure, the ones who make me hope that we really do live forever because I want to spend way more time with them than I’m able to down here. My true friends.

Some ask how I’m doing through a card or a text or an e-mail or a telephone call, which is very nice, considering how busy most people are here on The New American Plantation.

Another group shows tremendous concern for my wife, which is certainly welcome and reasonable, since she’s going through at LEAST as much as I am in terms of stress and worry, not to mention  legwork. I’m happy that she has such a strong support network, especially since she gives ME so much of her time and support. Since most of them are women, they apparently feel icky about asking me directly about my new disease, which I find bewildering, but I also realize their good intentions since so many of them are praying for my ass. Literally.

The final group is, thankfully, very small. These are the ones who have sought my help when they were going through tough times, but now that I could use someone to talk to, have vanished into their own lives and concerns. Oh well. Probably not much of a loss.

So enough with the whining already. I’ll come through this leakier and weaker, but I will no longer have prostate cancer, which means I can spend a few more happy years with my sweet little wife and my real friends, and for that I am happy. How many friends have I really got? Enough to realize how grateful I am for the ones who stick around.


Nice, Fat, and Ugly

I’m tire of bodies. They break. They decay. They squirt unpleasant substances. You have to feed them, and if you feed them too much they get all gross and nasty to look at. You’re supposed to exercise them, too, and if you don’t they get all tired and flaccid, and if you exercise them too much or incorrectly you pull muscles and wind up stiff and in pain for God knows how long. Bodies have to be lugged everywhere you go even though the speed of thought beats the speed of muscle every damn day of the week. Bodies get sick and have to be stuffed with all sorts of chemicals to make them right again, or chopped apart to have things taken out of them if they don’t work right. Bodies are a nuisance.


There are many complaints I have about bodies, but the first and foremost is the sex thing. Although sex is an activity almost universally enjoyable, “free fun for poor people” as St. Douglas Stanhope reminds us, there is more discrimination with regard to sexual activity than there are stolen elections in Florida. Very few people like to have sex with fat people, for instance, and even though many fat people are some of the nicest people in the world and are really good at doing sex, almost nobody ever gets to find out because of the current societal distaste for those who use more than their fair share of gravity. The fun parts on fat people work just as well as the ones on skinny people; they’re just a little harder to access. Sure, quick little sports cars are a gas to drive, but then they’re nothing when compared to the comfort and safety of a big ol’, fuel hogging SUV. They’re both vehicles. They both can get you to where you want to go. It’s merely a question of aesthetics. I’m sure you can see where I’m going here.

Same goes for old people. Despite the fact that old people have been having sex for, in some cases, upwards of half a century, they are disdained by young, smooth people because young, smooth people only like to have sex with other, young smooth people, even though the old, wrinkly people are generally MUCH better at making sex than young, smooth people. This makes no sense to me. A horny young woman is very popular and widely sought after by all men, and more than a few women, whether the seekers are young and smooth or old and wrinkly. A horny old woman is deemed disgusting, even though she knows WAY more about sex than the young smooth one and, unless she’s a Southern Baptist or a devout Catholic, more than likely enjoys it a whole lot more. There are no games with a horny old woman, nothing to figure out. You want to, she wants to, we’re good to go. Not so with the young smooth one, who has to be fed and cooed and fussed over for several hours, or even days, before she’ll even consider horizontally bopping. Usually it’s a waste of time, too, because, as I noted before, many young smooth women have very little idea how to do sex as well as an old wrinkly one. If the population of sexual partners were a law firm, the old wrinkly ones would have their names on the front door and everybody would want them first.

The general public also doesn’t like doing sex with “ugly” people. Have you ever noticed that after you’ve known a person for a while they cease being “beautiful” or “hideous” or “cute”, or whatever, and they simply look like themselves? If you have had a long association with a person, their physical distinctiveness becomes a mere afterthought and they magically transform into simply looking like, well, whatever it is that they look like. We usually don’t afford “ugly” people that luxury. We see them, we are repulsed, and we relegate them to the trashcan of sexual partners with “no chance” because they don’t conform to our idea of what “hot” is. The possibility of that “ugly” guy over there being able to lick his own eyebrows or that “pig” of a female sitting at the bar having the ability to suck a basketball through a funnel (OR lick her own eyebrows) is never even considered. They “look bad”, so you’re done with them. If that is your mindset and approach to recreational coupling partner selection, may I humbly suggest that you are an idiot? As in the fat population, “ugly” people work just as well as the “pretty” or “handsome” ones. And, since they have likely been treated like second-class citizens their entire lives for having the audacity to have been born with “undesirable” DNA characteristics, they are often MORE than eager to please you in any way they can, unlike the “pretty” or “handsome” smooth person who expects you to be eternally grateful because they deigned to allow you access to their perfectly-formed skinbag of bones and intestines. You want a really good time? Dump the cute one who treats you like a used shoe and hook up with the “ugly” one who really likes you. Trust me. You’ll be better off.

Another thing I really don’t like about bodies is that they all eventually age and fall apart, no matter how well you maintain and feed them. Whether you pee standing up or sitting down, there is no way to totally avoid the onset of scoliosis, bromhidrosis, brittle bones, liver spots, thinning hair, chicken skin, diarrhea, pyorrhea, seborrhea, corns, bunions, trifocals, Squatty Potties, Preparation-H, and Depends. Sure, there is the occasional lifestyle freak like Jack LaLanne, tugging huge boats across the Hudson with his ninety-year-old teeth every generation or two, but you have to admit not many of us are willing to put that much effort into staying that fit for that long. No, the overwhelming majority of us watch in helpless despair as our spines slowly shrink and our ears and noses grow to elephantine proportions. Gravity eventually kicks our ass too, and we wind up hoisting our tits off our tummies or sitting on our balls. It is at this point of human deterioration, I suppose, that the young smooth people can be at least partially forgiven for refusing coitus with what amounts to a wobbly herd of large, aging apricots that smells like stale cheese.

What I’d like really like to see implemented is a system whereby the truly nice people were also gorgeous on the outside. It takes a lot of effort to be genuinely kind on this shithole of a planet, and I feel that Mr. Gawd really screwed this one up. He should have doled out physical gifts only to those who put more effort into character development and integrity than mascara and gym memberships. Pounds and pounds of unwanted cellulite and flab should melt from the bones of kindhearted fat people so they would become blindingly, physically lovely overnight. “Ugly” folks filled with inner character and honest empathy for their fellow man should radiate that inner beauty outward to such an extent that Playboy and Playgirl magazine would besiege them with requests for photo shoots and cover shots. People like Mother Teresa should look like the blonde Sports Illustrated girl with the fat boobs instead of a moldy ham Danish. Folks would be falling all over each other trying to be as nice as they possibly could merely because they wanted to look good on the beach next summer, which I suppose is as good a reason as any to be a good person.different women The mean ones would get ugly really quick, and everyone would be able to see exactly what kind of disgusting pricks they really were on the inside, because it would show on the outside. All the shithead cheerleader and fraternity-guy types who’ve made a career out of stuffing nerds into trashcans and giving painful wedgies to their future employers would immediately look like the loathed love children of a back-alley tryst between Gollum and the bride of Chuckie. One could only attain external physical beauty by being a truly beautiful person on the inside. The moment you treated someone poorly, or cheated them out of money, or said something untrue or mean about them behind their back, or kicked a dog or drowned a kitty, you would immediately become a walking, bleeding, oozing facsimile of the painting Dorian Grey kept in his attic. Your inner ugly would goosh through your powdered, smooth skin and you would look exactly like the scumbag you really are in your soul.

It would change our election processes forever.