By Dom Cioffi
Two weeks ago I had a conversation that was ripped straight from a movie script.
While sitting in a chair at the doctor’s office, I listened intently as I was told that I had cancer. Of course, I had walked into this appointment thinking I was going to get a prescription to clear up a minor problem, and before I know it, I’m wondering if my life is about to get a lot shorter.
The cancer conversation is the one conversation you never think YOU will have. That conversation is reserved for OTHER people (at least that’s what we always tell ourselves).
And yet, there I was, front and center. The recipient of one of life’s most discouraging diagnoses.
I experienced all the usual reactions that are associated with this scenario: Everything got fuzzy as my focus drifted from hanging intensely on each word the doctor spoke to noticing highly mundane things like the way his lips pursed before he began each sentence.
By the end of the conversation my head was adrift, but my body was strangely calm. As I walked out of the office and into the waiting room, I glanced around at the gathered patients wondering if anyone else was about to receive the same news.
When I finally got to my truck, I sat quietly and tried to analyze my feelings. Why am I not freaking out? Should I be freaking out? Why don’t I feel scared? Should I feel scared?
I stared at the cars surrounding me, picking up on the variety of colors that glistened in the sun. I began to notice the birds whistling in the trees nearby and the sounds of the cars as they ushered in and out of the parking lot.
I’m not sure how long I would have sat there in this daze of mindfulness if it wasn’t for my body heating up in the hot summer sun. I surmised that my brain just wasn’t ready to process the information I just received so I turned on the ignition and drove home.
During the drive home the strange sense of peace I was experiencing slowly drifted away as my mind began to contemplate my situation.
I could feel the anxiety building inside of me. My heart began pumping, my hands got sweaty, and my mouth dried into cotton. I decided to pull over into a grocery store parking lot where I sat breathing in and out, feigning my best Buddhist mediation technique.
Once I calmed down, I again let my brain begin to wrestle with this unexpected news. Within minutes I had come to a conclusion. I determined that I had two choices: I could either run from this or I could meet it head on. And since running simply wasn’t an option, I guess the choice was going to be easy.
I arrived home as one of the workmen helping remodel my kitchen sat in the driveway having a cigarette. I stopped and talked to him for a moment, the whole time conscious that I was about to dump some extreme news onto my wife.
My wife popped her head out the front door as I came up the steps. She happily inquired about my doctor’s appointment, but quickly reared back when she caught the look on my face.
“I guess I have cancer,” I said calmly. I’m normally prone to jokes, but she didn’t even question my words – sometimes body language says everything you need.
We went in and sat down. My eyes got teary for a moment as I caught a glimpse of my son’s photo on the mantle nearby. As I took a deep breath to collect myself, my wife, whose head was now spinning, pressed me for details.
I reviewed everything I could remember, knowing that I likely missed plenty of relevant info. In the minutes that followed, we drifted up and down emotionally before finally agreeing that nothing good would come from an attitude of despair. And at that moment we agreed to fight.
So, with the shock finally wearing off, I am now gearing up for the fight of my life. In the following months I’ll do my best to find the positives in this journey and embrace what unfolds. It feels like a tremendous leap of faith, but what fun would life be if you didn’t have a few of those?
This week’s film, “Sausage Party,” a story about anthropomorphic food living in a grocery store, could also be classified as shocking, except the shock involved with this picture comes from the wildly inappropriateness featured in the storyline.
“Sausage Party” is the first “R” rated digitally animated feature to be released to the masses. But I can assure you, just because this film is delivered as a cartoon, does not make it kid-friendly. In fact, it is the exact opposite.
This film is geared toward 20- and 30-somethings who can’t get enough risqué humor. It’s an hour and a half of vulgar, jaw-dropping indecency that crosses the line on everything from sexuality, to racism, to drug abuse, to horror.
If you plan to see this one, get ready to be scarred for life. But plan on those scars begin accompanied by plenty of laughs. A squeamish “B” for “Sausage Party.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected]
By Dom Cioffi