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Round Two: Fred meets The Big C -excerpt from da book

October 1, 2012

Throughout the book I intersperse five fantasy battles with me against the Big C for each cycle of chemo I’ve gone through. This is Round One, and I will follow this over the next couple days…

Round Two

An oncology nurse stands by the IV-pole and the boxing commentator says, “The patient’s vital signs are: Blood Pressure 142/93. Pulse: 76. Temperature: 97.2 Respiration 16. Weight 219 lb 12.8 oz.”

I’m collapsed on the recliner in my designated corner. This second cycle of chemo has been rough. I’m not resigned to it—I accept it. I lost weight and became anemic. Well, that’s my choice. I threw up. No surprises. That’s what happens here. I’ve lost hair, developed mouth cankers, no taste. My choice to be here—that’s why I’m not a victim. I will come out of this round stronger. I will. That’s my choice—to believe!


“The Big C almost sprints to the center ring and taunts the challenger, waving his gloves. He’s laughing and defying Reiss to come toward him,” said the commentator. “If you had asked anyone who knows infusion, they would’ve predicted a first round knockdown. No one, including this announcer would believe there would be a second round after the unbounded savagery of punishment the challenger received to his body. Most patients will tell you receiving a good body punch from The Big C during chemo is the next worst thing to dying.”

I walk through the ring’s void towards The Big. I’m naked and flat-footed, wheeling along my IV-pole of chemo as catheter tubes dangle in green loops to the urine depot bags strapped to my legs. My gums are bleeding. I have a metallic taste in my mouth, as if my teeth are made of aluminum.

“The Big C leads with a right hook. The challenger raises his arms and blocks it. The champ follows up with a stiff jab. The challenger ducks it. Reiss skips and sidesteps a series of rights and lefts. The Big C keeps swinging. Reiss bobs and weaves, parries and blocks each blow.”

I can’t throw a counterpunch yet. But I have enough stamina to rope-a-dope him.

“The champ scores a combination and back pedals. The Big C’s wheezing slightly. He’s clearly dominated this fight, but his footwork has lost a touch of its first-round bounce. Hello! There’s a right cross flinging the challenger into the corner. Reiss covers his face. The champ unleashes combinations to the body to finish the challenger. Reiss takes the hits. But The Big C’s punches lack strength. It’s almost like the challenger is playing possum. The champ has actually begun to slightly shrink from the force of his own blows.”

The bulging muscles on The Big C’s chest are simmering and bubbling. His six-pack shaped abdomen is one puffy blob.

THE BELL RINGS and ends my second cycle of chemo.

I’m still standing. I lower my arms. The Big C has shrunk down to my height. I’m eye to whatever eye he has behind his mask. He’s panting. I’m not.

I smile. My white teeth are outlined in blood from my swollen gums as I smirk and say, “What do you think of me now?”

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