In less than a month, I will hit the milestone year which aligns with my father’s collapse at work and his resulting brain cancer diagnosis. He did not last a year from that diagnosis. His half-sister, Cindy and his brother, Tony also had the same kind of cancer originally found in my father which caused him to have a kidney removed. Cindy survived. Tony did not.
Last month, my voice had become hoarser with all the speaking I had been doing at work and my neck and sinuses have been inflamed. Each year, a new set of symptoms present themselves and I struggle and carry on; but I often wonder if I won the genetic lottery and I am going to get the same diagnosis as those before me.
He died at age 53. I turn 52 in less than a month and I am finding it hard to enjoy things while I feel less and less like myself. I am not steady on my feet after prolonged sitting. I don’t quite trust myself on trips alone for fear of collapsing one day myself.
I’ve noticed changes as I get closer to 52. There is an odor to me which is unlike the natural scent I have always known. It is strange and putrid. My skin is an off shade. (Don’t get me wrong, I knew it was changing since 1999 when I got paler and paler) Now the pink hue is missing and it is sallow. Really notice it in my lower limbs and my left arm.
And oh how I am tired! I’m not eager to run errands on weekends or nights after work anymore. I’m now having the groceries delivered most weeks and ordering supplies for the house online.
On a good day I take advantage of what I’m given and do as much as I can. The good days are not as frequent as they were a year ago. I am struggling.
You might have wondered why I’m going on about all of this. One reason is the genetic factor of what killed my father and his brother and how to identify the onset should I be the one.
Second and most importantly, each day is one better than the last; and even if I struggle and I am barely hanging in there it’s a gift. I cannot stress this enough: don’t waste a single moment. Enjoy it like a fine meal–savor every second you have.
Each Birthday after this point is a huge milestone and I’m going to appreciate the hell out of the day each year.