I have this fear. It follows me around everywhere I go. It’s never far. It lingers in the back of my mind whispering to my subconscious that no one I love is safe. What’s my biggest fear you may ask? The simple answer to that is Cancer.
My first real experience with this unforgiving disease was in January of 2013. That was the year my life changed forever.
“It’s stage four Cancer” was what my husband told me. We weren’t exactly sure what that meant only that it was bad. At that moment it seemed like my world was spiraling out of control. I knew then that nothing would ever be the same.
My husband and I just stood there stunned. As soon as it hit me I began to cry. My husband looked at me and said “what?”. Now at this point I’m pretty sure my husband was in shock (we both were), and it hadn’t exactly sunk in yet. ” He’s dying” was all I said.
The person in question was our friend Jason. He was my husband’s boss and both of our good friend. We had met him, and several other close friends in October 2010 at a poker game we attended.
Jason was a husband to a very interesting and intriguing women who in time I grew to love whole heartedly. He was also a father to two of the most awesome kids I know. He was quiet and smart and one of the best Texas hold ’em players I had ever met.
He was also blessed with a fairly wry sense of humor. For example one of the nights he was at our weekly poker tournament and was sitting at my table. Now usually there is anywhere from 15 to 27 players at these games. We had been playing with this group every weekend for a few months already. Poker was the first thing I found that I was a natural at. I loved it!
On that night when it was my turn to shuffle then deal, and since my shuffling was so terribly slow, I had resorted to politely asking whoever was lucky enough to be sitting near, if they would shuffle for me.
Lets be honest here, I was still new to the whole poker thing, and as I like to say I was the best worst dealer around.
I thought I was doing everyone a favor by not taking up anymore time as it was.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed movement to my left. It was Jason. He had gotten up, walked to the kitchen picked something up, and proceeded to walk with it over to me and set it down right in front of me. To my horror it was a shuffling machine!
All you had to do was cut the deck in half. Place each half on either side of the machine, press the botton, and viola your deck is shuffled!
I will never live it down.
This was probably the most embarrassing thing that had happened to me since I started playing Texas hold ’em.
So of course I did the only thing I could think of. I used it the rest of the night. If you can’t beat ’em join ’em right?
The very next week I was shuffling on my own.
I’m not sure he ever knew it but I was in in constant competition with Jason. My husband and I played every Friday night for the next three years with that group. They became like family, and still are.
Jason in my eyes was the best player there, so of course in my mind I needed to beat him as much as I possibly could. That didn’t work out so well for me on many occasions, but that didn’t mean I would ever stop trying.
In January of 2013 two years and three months after I met him, Jason my friend was diagnosed with Stage four terminal cancer. With in six weeks he was gone. He was 38 years old.
The one thing I learned from his passing was that this life is a fleeting gift. You have to make the most of it, and never look back. I hold my family even closer now then ever.
I quit smoking and took up writing instead. The first thing I ever wrote was a poem which I read at the spreading of his ashes. I didn’t keep a copy, and I don’t remember the words. It was just for him.
The truth is I can’t stop cancer from happening but at least I can try and leave my mark on this world through my words as well as my actions.
Last week one of my family members was diagnosed with cancer. Immediately my anxiety kicked into overdrive and I have been having trouble sleeping again. I imagine until we find out more I will continue to have this problem.
The fear is real. No matter what happens though I will push on, and help him fight in anyway I can. Sometimes all we can do is be there and that’s what I intend to do.
Oh and fuck you Cancer!