The Sum of My Parts (Kindle Single)

The Sum of My Parts (Kindle Single)

In 2002, at the age of 39, I was a successful journalist and critic when I was diagnosed with testicular cancer, a disease that usually strikes men in their teens and 20s. At first I tried to deny my condition (trying to treat a tumor with hot baths and ice packs). Eventually, I decided I would learn as much about my illness as possible while trying to keep my emotions on hold.

What followed was an experience that finally forced me to deal with issues about my body that I had tried to ignore for decades. Along the way I dealt with a physician who gave me ridiculous advice and acquaintances who asked unbelievable questions. But I was also fortunate to be surrounded by people who supported me and doctors who helped me through the process.

“I kept reminding myself that this did not happen to me because I ate the wrong foods, or didn’t get enough vitamins, or had sex with the wrong people (and yes, there were people — not necessarily friends — who flat-out asked me if it was sexually transmitted). I did not have this tumor because I got too much sun, or didn’t get enough exercise, or was careless about my personal hygiene. There was no explanation. It simply happened…”

Throughout the sometimes painful, often strange and occasionally bizarrely funny recovery period, I began to realize what had happened to me was not a tragedy but an opportunity to take a second look at where I was and where I wanted to be. Cancer, I learned, is not always a death sentence; in my case, it gave me the chance to live a better life.
In 2002, at the age of 39, I was a successful journalist and critic when I was diagnosed with testicular cancer, a disease that usually strikes men in their teens and 20s. At first I tried to deny my condition (trying to treat a tumor with hot baths and ice packs). Eventually, I decided I would learn as much about my illness as possible while trying to keep my emotions on hold.

What followed was an experience that finally forced me to deal with issues about my body that I had tried to ignore for decades. Along the way I dealt with a physician who gave me ridiculous advice and acquaintances who asked unbelievable questions. But I was also fortunate to be surrounded by people who supported me and doctors who helped me through the process.

“I kept reminding myself that this did not happen to me because I ate the wrong foods, or didn’t get enough vitamins, or had sex with the wrong people (and yes, there were people — not necessarily friends — who flat-out asked me if it was sexually transmitted). I did not have this tumor because I got too much sun, or didn’t get enough exercise, or was careless about my personal hygiene. There was no explanation. It simply happened…”

Throughout the sometimes painful, often strange and occasionally bizarrely funny recovery period, I began to realize what had happened to me was not a tragedy but an opportunity to take a second look at where I was and where I wanted to be. Cancer, I learned, is not always a death sentence; in my case, it gave me the chance to live a better life.

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