Monday, November 23, 2015

Everything is relative, including cancer

Entry 3 in the colorectal cancer blog journal "I've Got a Mass in My Ass".

It's been hugely gratifying to receive so many well wishes after my first couple of blog posts on dealing with a stage 3 colorectal cancer diagnosis.  In light of the much-appreciated accolades for having a positive attitude and approaching this challenge with humour, it's worth reiterating that it's easy for me to crack wise because I have a decent prognosis.  Nothing is guaranteed and I won't know whether and to what extent my radiation and chemo treatments are working until the surgeon boldly goes where no man has gone before, but I feel fine mentally and physically, which is more than can be said for some of the people whose paths I cross on a daily basis at the hospital.  Last week, I shared a waiting area with a father and his teenaged son.  The son was undergoing treatment, and his dad's emotional burden was palpable.  It was unspoken but obvious that he would trade places with his boy in a second - as any loving parent would - and it made me grateful that it's me and not one of my kids who's been dealt this hand.  I can only imagine that father's feelings of fear and helplessness.  There but for the grace of God...

Shout out to the gang in radiation oncology room 6
I go to the same treatment room at the hospital and deal with the same staff just about every day, and when they found out I work on the radio they thought that was pretty cool.  I thought it was cool that they thought it was cool, because they're all in their 20s, and their curiosity about my work reassured me that not everyone under 30 looks at pre-millennial pop culture and technology with fustian hipster disdain.  Anyway, I promised to give them a shout out on the air at 8:15am the next day, didn't remember until 9:45 and got one of their names and the name of their department wrong.  And they still thought it was cool.  Suck it, hipsters.

They're magically antimetabolic!
My hospital-appointed dietitian says Lucky Charms don't cure cancer, to which I say, "It's never been tried."  And that's why I'm a visionary pioneer in the field of medical research when I'm not cranking out yesterday's hits and the day before yesterday's classics on lite and refreshing Jewel 106.7 FM.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Does this hospital gown make me look fat?

Entry 2 in the colorectal cancer blog journal "I've Got a Mass in My Ass"

Note to self: Not all hospital gowns are created equal.  Before my radiation treatment today, I grabbed one out of the usual pile and headed into the changing room, where I soon found myself uncomfortably attired in something that barely covered my nether regions and didn't even come close to tying up in the back.  Clearly, there was a laundry room mix-up between the Royal Vic and the adjacent Montreal Children's Hospital.  I looked like Mama Cass in a mini-skirt.  Only prettier.

Cancer has its privileges
Want to save money on parking at the new super-hospital?  Get cancer.  Daily radiation/chemotherapy treatments entitle you to a $60 a month parking pass, which represents savings of thank-you-baby-Jesus percent off regular rates.  Before my treatments started, I waited three hours one day for a doctor to tell me something another doctor had already told me two weeks earlier, and then I paid $25 for parking.  The left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing, even though both hands had been wrist-deep up the same ass.

Bacon causes cancer?  Whatever.
One of my radiation room moles tipped me off today that tomorrow I have to meet with my arch-nemesis: the nutritionist.  She'll probably tell me bacon causes cancer, when the more relevant question is "Does bacon exacerbate cancer?"  Anyway, I went over to the Rail bistro at Playground Poker in Kahnawake after my treatment for some last-hurrah bacon and eggs with a side order of the greatest breakfast potatoes in the history of the world.  It was nice to catch up with my friend and former K103 colleague Paul Graif.  By the way, Paul, "Hey, you've lost weight!" is not an appropriate greeting for a cancer patient.  Ya fat fuck.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Oh, great, another "Look at me, I have cancer" blog

  About ten weeks ago, I was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer, which apparently isn't as bad as it sounds.  Right out of the gate, the doctor who performed the colonoscopy that revealed the tumour assured me it was "operable, treatable and curable."  
   Of course, I've shared the news with family, work colleagues and close friends and I've mentioned it in passing to some acquaintances.  There's no reason to treat it like a state secret, but neither did I want to go public because: A. people have their own problems and don't need to be burdened with mine, and B. I didn't want to be perceived as a self-indulgent attention seeker.  If I want attention, I'll write a hawkish anti-Islamist blog or tweet some brutally honest common sense about taking personal responsibility to piss off the terminally-offended progressive left.  Works every time.
   However, on a couple of occasions, people whose judgement I respect have suggested I should write about this journey - not so much for therapeutic purposes, but because a lot of what's happened to me over the past two-half-a-half months is so goddam funny, like the time I passed out and fell on the floor during my first consultation/examination with the colorectal surgeon.  There I was, buns up and kneeling on the examination table while he's up my ass with some kind of oncological divining rod, waving it around like he's conducting the triumphant finale to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.  It wasn't the pain as much as it was the discomfort that overwhelmed me, and the next thing I knew I woke up on the examination room floor, with the nurse apologizing for not catching me and exclaiming "I've never seen anyone faint THAT fast!"  Meanwhile, the doctor, who happens to be movie star good-looking, tells me to stay down for a couple of minutes until I regain my strength.  I don't often compare my lot in life to the fortunes of others, but I've got to tell you: as I was sitting on a cold hospital floor with my pants and underwear around my ankles under the sympathetic gaze of an impossibly handsome surgeon, I might have felt the slightest twinge of inadequacy.
   Fast forward to today, and I just completed my fourth round of five-day-a-week radiation/chemotherapy treatments.  The radiation room staff was listening to the Beatles on Spotify, and as I was lying on the table getting zapped, I drew inspiration from my great and good friend Dave McGimpsey and thought up a few bogus, cancer-related Beatles song titles, including "Molly's Got a Mass," Tottenham Tumour" and "Bloody Uncle Anus".  They're not in the same league as Dave's "Nigel and His Chippy", "Nasty Colonel Pickles" and "Sammy Likes His Crumblies", but I thought they were pretty good. 
   To summarize, so far, so good.  I feel fine, I haven't lost weight (which for a change is a good thing) and the prognosis is positive.  If I can get through my next appointment with the surgeon without falling off the table and cracking my skull open on the floor, I should be able to stay on the right side of the dirt for a while yet.  I'll keep you posted.  Thanks for listening.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

I lost 15 Twitter followers and I feel great!

   If only I could lose weight the way I lost Twitter followers after the Paris terrorist attacks, I'd be in fighting trim in no time.
   Actually, I only dropped about 15 Twits in the 24 hours immediately following the latest round of mindless carnage and subsequent social media brouhaha.  (For the record, losing 15 pounds would still leave me 25-30 lbs shy of my target weight, but I suppose it would be a start.)
   Anyhoo, back to my supposed Islamophobic intolerance that so offended some of my social media acquaintances that they felt compelled to bail on a tenuous online relationship that never had so much as a  "hail-good-fellow-well-met" to begin with: the details are fraught with irony. 

   My first offence was to call out much-reviled British television host Piers Morgan for not waiting until the bodies were removed from the crime scene before tweeting the shopworn apologia about the attackers not being "real" Muslims, as if "Allahu Akbar" is a motivational cheer reserved for the Dubai Mighty Camels of the Emirates Hockey League (and that's an actual team from an actual league, so don't blame me for perpetuating stereotypes - blame them).  Morgan and other "useful idiots" refuse to take the Islamic State at their word that everything they do is in the name of Islam, and anyone who points out that inconvenient truth is automatically labelled a bigot, even when they go out of their way to acknowledge that ISIS is not representative of all Muslims.  It's standard intellectual dishonesty practiced by self-righteous hashtag activists who never met a smear they wouldn't apply to anyone who doesn't march in ideological lockstep.  
   The second tweet that got some knickers in a knot was this one:

   If you've read a newspaper or watched television in the last year, you know that's a reference to then-Liberal leader and newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's widely-mocked comment that Canada should suspend air strikes against Islamic State in favor of offering cold weather survival aid and advice to ISIS victims.  Some people thought the tweet was in bad taste, but taste is subjective, and I thought it was relevant and fair current affairs commentary, however biting.  For those who didn't understand the reference because they don't follow the news, tough tits.  Educate yourself.  And spare me the bleating about criticism of our new PM being tantamount to "playing politics".  The election is over.  You want to talk about playing politics?  Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper was (and continues to be) blamed for everything from climate change to the heartbreak of psoriasis by anti-conservative partisans whose disdain for the man precludes any semblance of fair and credible commentary.
    I'll leave you with a couple of essays that underscore how the schism in Western political ideology has never been wider.  I'm more inclined to the Breitbart point of view, both ideologically and because they tend to maintain a sense of humour, which I believe is important.  The Salon post also makes some excellent points, especially about ill-advised western foreign policy adventures, but I can do without the victim-blaming, and Christ, they can be whiny and condescending.

Feedback is welcome but anonymous comments will not be posted.  If you don't have the courage of your convictions, they're not worth reading.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The captaincy: there was no right or wrong choice

   The Canadiens couldn't win when they named their new captain.  They also couldn't lose.
   While I share the opinion of widely-read columnists and bloggers on both sides of the language divide that PK Subban was best candidate for the "C", there's no credibility in attempting to diminish the elevation of Max Pacioretty to the most coveted and respected leadership position in professional hockey - if not in all of pro sports.  
   Unlike the boisterous and engaging Subban, Pacioretty is a quiet, leadership-by-example type whose near-miraculous recovery powers in the wake of a string of serious injuries have imbued him with an aura of indestructibility.  Most tellingly, he was awarded the captaincy after a vote among the players.  As much as it's a stretch and a trivialization of professional soldiering to say that athletes "go to war" together, there is a sort of military mentality in team sports, where - as in combat - the biggest responsibility is to the guys next to you, and the greatest fear is letting them down.  In those circumstances, leadership is paramount, and there are no better judges of leadership qualities than those being led.  If the guys who live check by jowl in circumstances of shared challenges and adversity decided collectively that Pacioretty was the best choice for a leader, that should be good enough for anyone.
   It's also not as if Subban lost the lottery here.   He's still in a leadership position as an alternate captain and the heir apparent whenever Pacioretty has to miss a week or two with a femoral shaft fracture or collapsed lung.  He's the unquestioned face of the franchise, which is saying something when one of his teammates won the lion's share of the hardware at the NHL Awards.  Along with being the Canadiens best player who's not Carey Price, Subban's stock in the community soared last week with his unprecedented generosity to the Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation.  For cynics who think it was public relations posturing for the captaincy, there are much cheaper ways of grandstanding that making a 10 million dollar commitment to charity.  Haterz gonna hate, as the kids today are wont to say. 
   Subban would have made a great captain.  He still might someday.  In the meantime, he'll be a dependable lieutenant to a guy who's every bit as qualified for the captaincy, in different ways.  Whatever else the Canadiens shortcomings might be entering the 2015-2016 season, quality leadership is not one of them.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

RIP responsible journalism

   It would be one thing if the mainstream Canadian news media merely ignored partisan attempts to cast Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a Frankenstein hybrid of Charles Manson, Al Capone and (your favorite 20th century criminal dictator here).  The fact that the self-proclaimed media "elite" actually promote that nonsense is a bleak commentary on the disturbing state of what now passes for professional journalism in Canada.
   Some background on the relationship between Harper and the media is useful in explaining what is accurately described as "Harper Derangement Syndrome".  His refusal to kowtow to the Ottawa press gallery's every whim has put the PM squarely in the media establishment's crosshairs.  While pissing and moaning like spoiled children about a perceived lack of accountability technically falls under the professional journalistic mandate, deliberately manipulating the news to cast their tormentor in the worst possible light is flat-out propagandist.  The very journalists who tacitly endorse comparisons of Harper to Hitler are themselves practicing their "craft" in the finest traditions of Dr. Goebbels.
   The most telling example of anti-Harper media bias was this week's debacle involving the drowning death of three year old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi, whose photographed corpse on a Turkish beach became a worldwide sensation.  Canada's national news media dutifully tucked into a plateful of bullshit served up by New Democratic Party MP Fin Donnelly, who falsely claimed that he hand-delivered a refugee claim from the boy's family to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander and that the claim was rejected.  The narrative immediately became that Alexander and Harper had blood on their hands and were responsible for the boy's death.  Even if Donnelly's claims were true, that narrative would have been a stretch, but when they were shown to be factually incorrect, the opposition and their hack journalist allies doubled down.  There were no apologies for getting the story wrong, and rather than seek out Donnelly for an explanation, the overwhelming majority of journalists continued to attempt to discredit Alexander and Harper while ignoring the actual facts of the case.  In the most ghoulish display of partisanship, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's chief adviser, Gerald Butts, actually used the dead child as a prop for fundraising and wasn't called out by media, which tells you everything you need to know about bias in Canadian journalism.

   As distasteful and unprofessional as the Kurdi affair is, none of it comes as a surprise to anyone who has followed the evolution of Canadian journalism.  A generation ago, the trade was still about reporting the facts, and the idea of compromising one's professional integrity by pushing an agenda was anathema. Today, journalism schools are overrun by naive idealists who learn at the knee of loopy leftists like Heather Mallick, Tony Burman and Terry Glavin that twisting the facts to fit a pre-conceived narrative is more important than getting the story right.  That's all well and good if you're writing fiction, but the news isn't fiction,
   At least, it didn't used to be.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Michael Sam is no Jackie Robinson

   As social trailblazing goes, any comparison between Michael Sam and Jackie Robinson is tenuous at best, and at worst an insult to Robinson's legacy.
   Gay rights had already gone mainstream when Sam came out as pro football's first openly gay player last year. There was no establishment backlash like Robinson faced when he broke Major League Baseball's color barrier in 1947.  To the contrary, in 2015, anyone who publicly disparages the notion of a gay player in a pro sports locker room is fair game for mob shaming on social media and summary dismissal from their job.  
   Sam received overwhelming support from the football establishment, the media and the public through his journey from the US college ranks to NFL training camp to the CFL.  When he walked away from the Alouettes this week for the second (and probably last) time, it was because he couldn't handle the "pressure".  The pressure of what, exactly?  Of near-unanimous support from a gushing media and adoring public?  Of a two year contract worth a reported $100,000 per season when he still hasn't proven anything at the professional level?  Of the preferential treatment the Alouettes afforded Sam while he tried to sort out his personal problems?  The worst thing to happen to Michael Sam since joining the Alouettes - and it fits the timeline in the subsequent chain of events - was that his fiancĂ©e broke up with him.

   Jackie Robinson should have faced such adversity. Institutionalized racism in the form of official segregation was part of the American social fabric for two decades after Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Robinson endured open hostility from fans and players - including his own teammates - but he never quit.  His remarkable athletic skills were exceeded only by his character and resolve.
   I hope Michael Sam finds peace with whatever troubles him, but I'm not on board for the pity party.  He positioned himself as a social trailblazer and happily accepted the accolades, but he wasn't ready for the responsibility.  
   Michael Sam is no Jackie Robinson.  Hell, he's not even Caitlyn Jenner.

(Please note: anonymous comments will not be posted.  If you don't have the courage of your convictions to sign your name to them, you're in the wrong place.)