By Dom Cioffi
After nearly two months of appointments, tests, consultations, research, traveling, planning and discussions, I am now sitting at the forefront of my cancer treatment.
I have relocated to Florida, lined up a remarkable staff of health care professionals, navigated three preparatory surgeries, and made all the necessary arrangements in order to focus on my health.
In other words, it’s go-time.
Today marks my first foray into both the chemotherapy and radiation regimens that will hopefully destroy the cancer that is growing inside of me. If all goes as planned, I will weather the next seven weeks without too many issues and then spend the next year rebuilding my body to where it was prior to this unwanted assault.
I have prepared for this like a warrior prepares for battle. I have read what others in the same position have done and have taken note of their successes and failures. I have scoured all the information available to find any edge that will aid me prior, during and after treatments. And I have asked every doctor within earshot what can I do on my end to give myself the very best outcome.
In every case I have been told to follow the game plan as closely as possible, which means taking the proper medications, engaging in the prescribed protocols, and performing the requested exercises. With that said, if I’ve been told to do an exercise 30 times, I plan to do it 60; if I’ve been told that I cannot lose more than 10 percent of my body weight, my goal is 7 percent.
I’m approaching this like an athlete who not only wants to win, but also wants to be the best. I’m in this battle with my doctors. We’re a team and I want to do everything in my power to uphold my end of the bargain.
Throughout the early part of this journey, I have also received countless well-wishes and prayers not only from family and friends, but from complete strangers as well.
I have been told to find faith in God – that He has a plan for me. I have been told to focus on my life energy – that it will aid in destroying the cancer. I have been told that cancer is a conspiracy created by the pharmaceutical companies in order to make money. I have been told that cancer is curable by natural remedies and therefore I should only be drinking carrot juice or a special molasses cocktail. I have even been told that this will be the greatest experience of my life in that it will realign my understanding of what’s important.
Ultimately, I have been given advice about every aspect of cancer. And in every case, I have listened. I can’t say I have bought into everything, but I have listened.
Interestingly, the common thread throughout most of the messages I have received has been to stay positive and be brave. Staying positive has always been easy for me – I’m a glass half full kind of person. But I’m struggling with the bravery part.
It’s funny, because I don’t feel brave. I suppose it would have been cowardly to have turned and run from my diagnosis, but when your life is hanging in the balance and you have a family to take care of, that hardly seems like an option.
Bravery to me is the soldier who walks into enemy territory, the astronaut who straps himself on top of a rocket, or the fireman who walks into a burning building.
I believe the situation I am facing has more to do with perseverance than bravery. Perhaps if I really knew what lay ahead for me I might need bravery to come into play, but at this point, ignorance may be bliss.
I don’t feel brave, but I do feel lucky – lucky that I live in a country with the most advanced health care in the world and lucky that I have so many people genuinely pulling for me.
This week’s film, “Florence Foster Jenkins,” features a woman who didn’t always have people pulling for her, but who still stood up – with epic bravery – to do the one thing in life that she loved.
Starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, “Florence Foster Jenkins” is the true-life story of a New York socialite from the early 1900s who had an amazing love and appreciation for music. In fact, she was so enamored with music that she felt the need to sing herself, even though she was ridiculously unskilled and without any true talent.
Any film featuring Meryl Streep has to be considered viable. She is the female version of Tom Hanks or Daniel Day-Lewis in that her involvement immediately brings legitimacy to a project.
If you’re in the mood for a quiet little film that encompasses some wonderful performances, then definitely give this picture a try. The story seems unremarkable, but the delivery makes it endearing.
A courageous “B” for “Florence Foster Jenkins.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Dom Cioffi