Posted by: donrhymer | February 21, 2012

Body by Cancer

I’ve said it before, the body is an amazing machine built to function flawlessly at an extremely high level. Until one day… it doesn’t.

I mean, think about it for a minute, the evolution of the human body is breathtaking. Ever watch kids on a playground? Their bodies are not so much a convergence of flesh, blood and bones… as indestructible propulsion devices. Garanimals clad vessels hurling themselves with reckless abandon against steel and wood, grass and concrete, fueled only by Cheerios, hot dogs and in Los Angeles – gluten free, organic, free-range macaroni and non-dairy cheese. Industrial miracles, they are capable of boundless, albeit annoying energy… until four hours after bedtime when they finally collapse in a thirty-eight pound ball of goo.

The first sign of trouble hits at puberty when our bodies start to give us hints that they may have been designed for constructive uses beyond the boundaries of kickball. Through our twenties we get stronger, better, hotter and then at some point in our mid-thirties it happens. Our bodies tell us we’ve run as fast as we’re ever going to run, we’ve jumped as high as we’re ever going to jump and we’re as thin as we’re probably ever going to be.

At some point in our late-forties our bodies let us know it’s time to stop doing some of the things we’ve always done. We walk… though the moment lends itself to running.  We go around… instead of crawling over. We turn in… rather than push on through to the wee hours.

And then fifties and sixties and on and on… and this is getting depressing… the point being the effects of aging are inevitable, but they happen slowly. Never as slowly as we want them to, but the body is great about giving us a “head’s up.” Neon road signs light the path ahead telling us that change – “is a coming.”

Which is why cancer is, in it’s simplest form, a betrayal.

Like a palace coup on a benevolent dictator, it catches you unawares. It turns the tables and insists that all treaties, pacts and trade agreements are nullified and void and then locks you in the cellar while the disloyal bastards loot the castle.

We had a deal, my body and I. I would take reasonably good care of him, get regular tune ups and keep current on all my warranties and he would break down slow and steady. Like he was supposed to. He broke his promise.

Five weeks after radiation, the third season, one more and I can syndicate, I find myself in the land of weekly check-ups and bi-weekly scans. To be honest, it feels a lot like being hunched in a submarine, miles below the surface, geared for silent running, sending a sonic “ping” into the depths hoping to God one doesn’t come back.

Apparently, it’s working. The tumor is smaller, there is much reason for joy, but I’ll feel a lot better when we can surface and get out the deck chairs.

Yes, the body is an amazing machine built to function flawlessly at an extremely high level… here’s to hoping mine is finally beginning to remember how.



  1. Wow, Don. That was the most amazing description on aging I have ever heard.

  2. I laughed, I cried, I forwarded.

  3. Beautiful and painful description of the betrayal. Perfect.

  4. Don,

    Here’s hoping you can get the deck chairs out soon!

    All the best,

    George Landes

  5. I was holding my breath nearing the end of your post, now I feel like doing jumping jacks! Crossing my fingers, sending hope, saying prayers.


  6. Good, now that you are feeling better how bout a reunion poker game. The old crowd Littiken, Jamison, Nybo, and we can substitute Frankman Jr. if we need a Frankman, at all. Whom ever you like, your place or mine. Old stakes:nickles, dimes and quarters.
    I can throw together some nice Californian vegetarian to make us feel like real men.
    Whatcha think, Rhymer?

    Really-really thrilled to read your latest.

  7. Don, I went to high school with your beautiful bride. A mutual friend, Margy McCrosky, linked me to your blog, and it’s wonderful. Please give Kate a hug from me. And please share with her that my daughter, who goes to Washington and Lee, just visited JMU to see another friend — reminded me of Kate!

  8. This is terrible news. Once again, you pull the rug out from me. I’m really starting to hate you.

  9. Don,
    This is THE BEST news. What could be better?
    Love to you, Sally

  10. Make that cancer your bitch, Don!

  11. And by that I mean, y’know…get well soon.

  12. You have a real gift with writing – putting your deepest thoughts and feelings down on electronic paper. Interesting premise that you think you had any kind of warranty or promise or control of your body in the first place. In light of the linear path of life to death we are all in, I believe that the Creator has every right for making recalls. I am so glad to hear that you are doing better but I truly look forward to the first day of my recall and meeting my Maker. We are praying for your return to health and the playground.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: