This one’s for John

Today, one of my best friends told me he has colon cancer. I can’t say I was totally surprised. It’s been a hot summer here, and about two weeks ago, I saw John with his shirt buttons open. His rib cage looked as though it was about to pop out of his chest. John is skinny to begin with, but I knew then that something was wrong. When one gets that thin, there’s a problem.

John said the cancer is at least at stage 3. He has to wait about 10 days for test results to come back before he knows if it’s at stage 4. The second I got home, I looked up colon cancer survival rates. Between stages 3 and 4, they drop off dramatically. He’s nervous about waiting so long for results, and I can’t blame him.

You never want to hear news like this, but I was glad he told me. I was also glad that he cried when he told me. In cases like this, crying is healthy–and needed. John felt so much better afterward. I only wish I could have cried with him. For me, the tears had to wait until I was alone. It always has been difficult for me to cry around people. I wish I could change that.

John wants to fight this. He is already part of a cancer survivors group. I was so glad to hear this. Like me, John has chronic depression. Like me, John has attempted suicide. But now, he wants to fight. That’s proof to me that he really does he really does not want to kill himself.

I’ve often thought that if I were diagnosed with a serious illness, it wouldn’t be a big deal. I have told myself “I want to die anyway, so an illness would be my excuse.” But, spending time with John today, I realize how wrong–and stupid–it is to think that way.

John is doing the best he can to absorb this news, but there is still so much he wants to do. He wants to spend time with his grown sons. He wants to see every classic movie he possibly can. More than anything, he wants to get Bernie Sanders elected President. As he told me today, “I want to help Bernie start a revolution. I’m a child of the ’60s. I love revolutions!”

Alone now, I cry for John. But I’m not going to tell him that. I’m just going to be there for him. The Last Picture Show is playing on the big screen here in Boston next week. We both love that movie.

We’re going to go see it. That’s all there is to it.

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