A few weeks ago, my wife told me that I needed to check my phone ASAP.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Martin just sent a message about James,” she said with a somber tone. “You need to read it.”
I grabbed my phone from the charger and scrolled through the messages until I found Martin’s. I read it and a sense of dread overwhelmed me.
Just got a text from Brent saying James is going back to MD Anderson [hospital] and things don’t look good at the moment…
James is my friend who I’ve known since 9th grade. We always hung out together throughout high school and college. He was even one of my groomsmen at my wedding. He told me he had colon cancer a few years ago and I was devastated. However, I gave him my support and prayed for his health to improve. And it did improve. Although he had to endure harsh chemotherapy, he grew stronger and was able to return to a semblance of normalcy. He held a huge birthday party last year to celebrate his being given another chance at life.
Things took a turn for the worse when the cancer spread to his lungs. James was having difficulty breathing and had to be rushed to the hospital. When he was released, I went to visit him.
I was unprepared to see a frail version of my friend attached to an oxygen tank. It broke my heart to see him that way, but I kept my emotions contained.
We spent the next hour discussing politics, society, sports, and reminiscing about old times. Neither one of us wanted to acknowledge James’ condition. Sometimes we just sat silently while the TV blared in the background. I think we both wanted to be 14 year old boys again when all we had to worry about was acne, homework, and which girl we liked.
At the end of our visit, I grabbed James’ hand and told him to call me if he needed anything at all.
“I’ll do that,” he said squeezing my hand. “Thanks for coming by to see me.”
I squeezed his hand back and let myself out. I sat in my car several minutes before driving away. I was overcome by feelings of sadness, anger, and guilt for not checking up on him more often. While sitting there, I started thinking about my other relatives who succumbed to cancer: Uncle Jesse – stomach cancer; Uncle Bobby – prostate cancer. Two more uncles and my father-in-law also had cancers but managed to get them treated early.
I’m tired of seeing friends and family member’s being affected by cancer, but I continue to have hope that James will beat this deadly disease. He is the reason why I’m participating in Movember. Movember’s vision is to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health. During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of millions of mustaches on men’s faces around the world. Through the power of the Mo, vital funds and awareness are raised to combat cancers and mental health challenges. Each donation helps to bring us one step closer to a cancer-free world.
Postscript: My friend died of colon cancer on November 8, 2013.