Monday, June 15, 2009

Can't Keep A Good Man Down

Jamie is 46 years old with Stage 3 bladder cancer.
We are told this is an old man's cancer. Jamie has every intention of becoming an old man who had cancer.
Bladder cancer is not a common diagnosis. But, as you'll see, there is nothing common about Jamie.
There is no telling why it hit him. The greatest risk factor is smoking. Well, yeah, there is that. He smoked from his early teens up until the diagnosis. But it is still a rare formation of cells. Millions upon millions of people smoke and not very many have bladder cancer. Hell, they don't all even develop lung cancer, much less this one.
One suspicion is that his urinary tract may have been susceptible because of a birth defect.
Jamie was born with a moderate spina bifida. With damage to and underdevelopment of his urinary and gastrointestinal tracts and pelvic nerves, it was possible he would not live to be a teenager. He became a teenager with frequent kidney infections. It was possible he would not live to see his 20s. By 20, the kidney problems had stopped and he continued to live his life. Spina bifida still affects him, but not in any way to which he hasn't adapted.
Growing up as a red-blooded American boy may not have been easy, but it was real. And it was fun. And there was real fun. Jamie's mother Wilma, God bless her and rest her soul, was determined that if her son was on this earth then he would have as normal a childhood as possible. Jamie grew up playing football, basketball, swam competitively and played varsity baseball while still in middle school.
And he played stuntman. At the age of 12, Jamie and friends stood on the roof of a house under construction and wondered who could jump off and hit the sandpile below. Jamie went first, overshot the pile, and broke his ankle.
The joint was reconstructed, but as 12-year-old boys do, Jamie continued to grow. And as he did, the bones were rebuilt again and again, resulting in more than five surgeries over seven years. His 20s were not plagued with the systemic problems of his childhood, but rather osteoarthritis and a lowered immunity from years of surgeries. By 34, osteomyelitis was unbeatable and his left foot was amputated.
Jamie's reaction: "Hell, I should have done this years ago!"
I tell you all this because my husband has been a survivor all his life. A hole at the base of his spinal cord did not stop him. Bones broken and rebroken again and again did not stop him. An amputation and a prosthetic foot does not slow him down.
And cancer will not stop him.
I am sure of it.

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