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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.
Update from Cancer Command
Well, here we all are once again. I’m feeling pretty good today. The last two weeks weren’t really great ones. Not nearly as much fun as the first go round. The chemo nailed me much harder this time. I’m wondering if maybe they give you a little more each round....you know, just for a gag, to see if you notice. This time around I was plagued by mouth sores. My throat became inflamed to the point that it was difficult to swallow for a few days. And for some reason yawning was brutally painful. Needless to say I stayed away from watching the political debates or anything involving Howie Mandel. My lower lip took the brunt of the damage though. For the last week I’ve looked like some poor bastard out of the Franklin Expedition...covered in yellow, scabby sores that would tear off in my sleep and...well, you get the picture. And, oh yeah, did I mention the diarrhea...how remiss of me. The chemo eats away at any cells that replicate quickly, good and bad, so it goes after your G.I. tract big time. The result is that your food goes through you faster than a fat kid on a water slide. With that, of course, comes the obligatory gas. And I’m not talking about ’toots’ here folks. I’m talking about stuff that makes Passchendale look like a cakewalk. Satellite photos are revealing a new hole in the ozone layer over Sunderland. We’ll be watching television together and I’ll get an attack and before I know it Suzanne and the boys will be crawling out of the room on their bellies, Suzanne yelling "Pee on your handkerchiefs! Pee on your handkerchiefs!" It’s not pretty. But we learn to laugh at it. At least I do.
I’m realizing, slowly, that so much of this battle is mental. You can’t feel the chemo going into your body and the needle only hurts briefly, but your mind, and maybe every cell in your body is screaming ’Don’t put this shit in here! What are you nuts? This is poison! You’re gonna get the shits again pal!’ The result (at least for me) is that you get a very strong psycho-somatic reaction to the whole process. I start to get nauseous the moment we walk into the hospital. The smell of rubbing alcohol can almost make me hurl. When you sit in the chair to get your drugs they give you something cold to put into your mouth to dilate the blood vessels (as I mentioned earlier the chemo goes for the mouth and the G.I. quickly) to limit the damage of the drug. You have your choice of vanilla ice cream, Popsicle’s, or crushed ice. Over the past two sessions I have tried them all and now cannot bear to even think about any of the three without wanting to toss my cookies. Those of you who have visited a Dairy Queen in my presence will understand how remarkable it is to picture Neil Crone with an aversion to ice cream. Jesus, last summer Kawartha Dairy’s was inches away from releasing it’s new flavour ’Crone Crunch’. I was part of their business plan. It’s remarkable; I cannot stop myself from making these negative associations. My greatest fear is that, because the drugs are administered by female nurses that soon I will develop a nauseous reaction to women (or at least women in a nurses uniform...which will totally ruin Thursday nights once a month in our bedroom).
So, we are slowly and sometimes painfully, inching our way through this obstacle course. I go downtown to Sunnybrook tonight to see the Radiation people and get my belly ’tattooed’ for their bombsites. I wonder if they can do something creative, like a hula dancer or something incorporating my navel. The radiation will begin on a nightly basis on, believe it or not, July 5...our 18th wedding anniversary. There’s a terrifically dark irony in the act of irradiating the hell out of somebody’s gonads on the night of his honeymoon. Again, you have to laugh.
In another week or so, I will be having a PICC line put into my arm. It’s a thin (I hope really, really thin) tube that is inserted into a vein in my bicep and runs up the arm, over the shoulder and down over the heart. The end sticking out of the arm is attached to a tube, which in turn is attached to a small battery powered pump, about the size of a Gameboy, that I will carry around in a fanny pack for five weeks. It’s a continuous infusion of chemo during that period. I only report to the hospital once a week for refills. I wonder if they give coupons.
I’d be lying if I said that a lot of this stuff doesn’t frighten me. It does. I’m not looking forward at all to having a tube snaked into me like some roto-rooter. And I’m wondering like hell what five weeks of this junk inside me will do to me. But, I am doing my best, and with the help of my wonderful, amazing, patient, loving and very curvy wife (my sex drive will be the last thing the chemo touches folks...if I have to shunt every last platelet in my body down there) I am learning to dwell very much in the present. One day at a time and don’t look too far ahead. Worrying avails us nothing. Everyday is a mental discipline. Today is the first day of the rest of your life...blah,blah,blah...
You know what really gets me through? The end. I think about the end. I think about the cool, colourful days of the fall and my boys’ birthdays and the last time I walk out of that damned hospital. I’m gonna French kiss a nurse and maybe even my oncologist on that day. I’m gonna drop my pants and moon my chemo chair. And then I am going to take my family on a trip to somewhere warm and sandy where the only thing cold that goes in my mouth comes from a brewery. I think about that folks. I think about that a lot.
Once again, my heartfelt thanks to all of you for your love and support. You have to be in my shoes to really know how much it all means...but believe me every one of your emails and notes is a lifesaver. I can’t tell you on how many occasions a very dark moment has been relieved by a word or two of caring. Keep those cards and letters coming folks.
Heaps of love to you all,
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