Among the Reasons I’d Like to Stay in Canada

Some of you already know that I live each day with Cowden’s syndrome. It’s rare, all right—1 in 250,000 Americans have it, and normally we die from it. Those of us who have it already know the drill: the body’s very good at producing tumors, our PTEN genes working overtime to create them. Largely, they’re benign, but up to ten percent of them can be malignant. So, ten percent of the 150 tumors with which I was first disgnosed equals 15 at any time can be malignant. Therefore, we tend to die from previously-undiagnosed cancer because we the patients don’t always know we have it. Said simply, we tend not to live long, partly because diagnosis is difficult and in the meanwhile the tumors win. I was correctly diagnosed by a geneticist. That makes me uncommonly lucky.

Yes, I have a geneticist. Crazy, no?

Anyway, her name is Spring Holter and she works at Sinai. Had it not been for her, I wouldn’t be writing this today. Between her and the team who’ve been monitoring me, I can live with a tumor-infested thyroid and regular assessment of my colon. Meaning: I’ve seen up my own ass far more often than I’d otherwise care to.

Do I have tumors elsewhere? Oh, probably. You’ve seen the Elephant Man or know of John Merrick, yes? My illness is a cousin of his, meaning I don’t expect an active dating life after this entry, which is perfectly all right by me. Meaning: Every day is a motherfucking crap-shoot, so I live that way.

BTW, I spent one evening with my beloved friends in a casino in Gulfport; the other two took one shot at the roulette wheel. Just before the bets closed, Lisa whispered to me “14, YOU FOOL!!!!!” I even said it aloud but the gate closed on me.

Guess which number came up. No shit. I laughed. But it did not matter. I still heard again from Lisa. And that means everything.

Could I receive care in the U.S.? Yes. Cleveland Clinic. But it’s in Cleveland. I’ve been there. Nice people there, but it’s not my home. Otherwise, there’s no place in the U.S. that I would trust with my life in this way.

Toronto, though….Toronto has become home, even if dear old 17184 says otherwise. If I have my choice I’d live here forever; no other place would do now. Returning to America means I go back to funding that which I loathe—the corporate state, the new plutocracy led by the nation’s least-deserving. I don’t care for Harper either, but I’m certain we’ll be rid of him someday, maybe just in time for a Trudeau, or maybe even a Peggy Nash.

Wouldn’t that be amazing?

I’d just like to be here to see it happen, even if I don’t get to vote.

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About johnwylam1957

I'm a poet and teacher now living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
This entry was posted in Life "After", Notes on Living and Dealing with Illness. Bookmark the permalink.

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