Wednesday, July 10, 2024

We Were The Playerbase We Wanted To Be


It was December 2016, and I had just been diagnosed with a particularly aggressive cancer.  My prognosis frankly wasn't great, the particular cancer that I had been diagnosed with had a 5 year survival rate of just 40%, and I was looking at about a year of particularly harsh treatment designed to just about almost kill me.  The idea of course was that if I only barely didn't die, that the cancer that was inside my blood and bone marrow would not be nearly so lucky.  If I could survive five rounds of this treatment, it might just be gone for good.  "There's a lot of aggression on both sides" I joked.

I tried to keep a positive view of things.  If everything went according to plan, and I responded well to the chemotherapy, I'd be recovered in just 7 months and back to work.  Sure, if things didn't go according to plan, I'd need more treatment.  It wouldn't stop at chemotherapy, I'd need new bone marrow transplanted into me to replace my mutated, cancerous ones.  I'd need to be on anti-rejection drugs for the rest of my life to keep my new immune system from identifying my own body as foreign and attacking it.  These drugs would slowly destroy my liver and kidneys, and make me more susceptible to infections.  And that's just what happens if I live, because the worst case is that the treatment kills me either from an infection while I have no immune system, an internal bleed while I have no platelets to stop myself from bleeding, from organ damage while I have no red blood cells, or from the chemotherapy drugs just hurting one of my organs just a bit too much.  

A black cat with a yellow ribbon around her neck

But why think of that?  7 days of treatment and I'm in recovery.  14 days of recovery and I'll get back enough of an immune system to get out of the hospital.  4 more treatments and I'll have killed the cancer.  Add 2 months to recover, and I'll be back to work in late June, maybe July at the latest.  And I'll be back with my cats.

My cats were with my inlaws you see.  They were a potential disease vector for potentially novel illnesses that as someone without an immune system I couldn't be exposed to.  One cat was a gray and brown kitten tabby kitten just barely 1 year old.  The other was an all black cat that I had gotten as a high school senior, and had come with me from South Florida to college in Ohio and now on to Pittsburgh.

This is a story about me, my childhood cat, the miniatures game Star Wars: Armada.  It is about death, dying, community, and dignity.  So join me one last time for one final blog post.