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Opinion: Column: Enough About Cancer
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Opinion: Column: Enough About Cancer

At least that was my intention when I sat down to write this column. I was planning on highlighting a couple of my pet peeves: One was about people who back into parking spaces, an all-too common practice (which does not make perfect) that irks me no end and often inconveniences me while idling in my car waiting for the driver to crane his neck and coordinate his mirrors while backing into a head-first space, all while blocking my passage.

The second peeve also involves cars, but this action has potentially far more dangerous consequences: Drivers who, while motoring along, completely ignore my car's blinkers/indicator lights – WHEN THEY'RE FLASHING.

I was taught that when driving a vehicle and needing to turn/switch lanes, I was to indicate that to other drivers by using my blinkers, look into my mirrors and then move right or left accordingly. Moreover, when I observed those same lights flashing in other vehicles, I was to respect their intentions and give them a wide berth. I was not to speed up and interfere with their indications. Unfortunately, the exact opposite often happens.

Though I am still respectful when drivers flash their blinkers, it often happens that when many of my driving brethren see those lights, they react much the same way as a bull does when he sees red: they SPEED UP, and in their vehicle's acceleration, they put me and my passengers at risk. If it has happened once – which it has – it has happened a thousand times.

Unfortunately, neither of these car-related "misbehaviors" has been able to block out one of my key cancer anniversaries: Feb. 20, 2009, and as such, I will now be returning to the scene of the semi-crime. And though I am not Billy Shears 20 years after the band taught me how to play, I am a lung cancer survivor who 10 years ago on Feb. 20 learned that I had cancer. That was the day when my primary care physician called me at work, about noon-ish on a Thursday, to discuss the results of my previous week's surgical biopsy.

After declining the offer to come to his office, I encouraged him to just tell me – which he did: the growth was malignant. Dumbfounded, I asked for further details, which he politely deferred to an oncologist (a specialty with which I was totally unfamiliar), with whom, while we spoke on the phone, my primary care physician scheduled a Team Lourie appointment for the following Thursday.

This officially ended the diagnostic process which had been going on since I showed up at the Emergency Room on Jan. 1, 2009 complaining of pain in my right side, an inability to take a deep breath and difficulty bending over.

With an inconclusive X-Ray to not corroborate, and an otherwise healthy patient with no family history of anything relevant – especially cancer – the doctor was perplexed. Fifty days later, I learned I had cancer. And so I remember that day/date, a day which will go down in infamy, so to speak – in my family, anyway.

The intervening days, as I have written about recently, were spent investigating the cause of my original symptoms. Eventually, all test results led to one conclusion: non-small cell lung cancer, stage IV.

Meaning metastatic and inoperable, meaning "terminal." It was Feb. 20 when I learned my fate. (The following Thursday, Feb. 27, is another anniversary; that's when we met my oncologist for the first time and learned that my life would never be the same, or last nearly as long.)

But yet here I am, alive and reasonably well, writing about nonsense, mostly, instead of cancer, for this week, anyway. Good therapy for sure, and a nice change of pace.