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Neil Crone’s Journal
Neil Crone is an actor and writer and a national spokesperson for the CCAC. A Second City veteran improvisor, host and stand up comic, Neil also loves to write poems and stories for "big and little kids".
Neil has written a journal of his experience with colorectal cancer.
Early Christmas Gift
I got one of my Christmas presents early this year. It’s a dog. A big, black dog. I call him Cancer. He’s not a puppy and you couldn’t really call him cuddly, in fact he’s scary as hell. He doesn’t need a leash or anything either, in fact, wherever I go, he follows. I can’t shake him. Sometimes I can’t even see him, but I know he’s back there, behind me somewhere, I can hear his black nails scrabbling on the concrete. Other days he’s so damn close I can feel his hot, rancid, breath on my neck. I don’t know how he found me, or why he’s hanging around. I’ve stopped feeding him months ago, but he’s still there.
The weird thing is, even though I know he’d kill me in a heartbeat if he had the chance, I’m still kind of glad he’s around. Or at least, I’m very glad I’ve had the chance to see him. You see, I think all of us have a big, black dog chasing us. They have different names of course. Some go by "Heart Attack" or "Stroke" or "Aids" or even "Crosstown Bus #4". And a lot are called "Old Age". But make no mistake, we all have one chasing us. And eventually he will catch us. But not all of us have been given the gift of seeing our Black dog, of constantly being aware of his presence. It’s like cancer survivors and anyone who has had a good long stare at their own mortality, have been given the gift of better hearing. We know the dog is always there.
And when you know your dog is there, hungry and panting, you tend to make the most of your time here. You start sucking the marrow out of every single day. You start living like we’re all supposed to live, fully and with joyful purpose. When you become aware of your dog you also suddenly become aware of the gifts that surround all of us each and every day of our incredible lives. Gifts like friends, family, children, laughter and even the tears of grief. When we embrace all of these things, I mean when we really hug the pants off of them, including the hurt and sorrow that inevitably come our way in this life, we are reminding ourselves that we are truly alive, that we are winning, that the dog is still behind us.
I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am that I have been given this gift, so early. And if I had one wish for all of you this holiday season it would be that you too could have my eyes and my ears, if only for a little while. To hear your dog. And consequently to see the love that surrounds you on a daily basis, to feel the immensely sweet joy of a hug, a kiss, a handshake or a smile from a friend or loved one, while both of you are still here to enjoy it. Don’t wait another minute. Start living and loving as though Fido were inches from your ass.
Merry Christmas everyone.
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