On Tuesday May 24th at 8:30am I will fire the first salvo in my battle against cancer.
On Tuesday May 24th at 8:30am I begin my chemotherapy.
No more waiting for the treatment to start. No more fear of the unknown. No more letting the cancer grow unchecked.
No more Mr. Nice Guy.
Why? Because fuck that shit.
Cancer can take a lot of things from me- it cuts through peoples’ lives like a scythe, slicing families apart.
It can take my hair, and it will. It can rob me of my duty to provide for my family, it already has. It can take my good health- temporarily- and throw me around like a rag doll. It can strike dread and fear in the hearts of my loved ones, but only if I allow it. And I fucking won’t. Not a chance.
On Tuesday May 24th at 8:30am I will not be a cancer patient.
On Tuesday May 24th at 8:30am I will be a Warrior.
On Tuesday May 24th at 8:30am I will become Indestructible. Indomitable. Invincible. Invulnerable, and every other motherfucking In- there is. There is no other way to fight, not if you want to win. Fists flying, headbutting, eye gougeing, curb stomping- whatever it fucking takes. Why? Because-
Cancer will not take another parent from my son. He will not lose me, because I am a Warrior.
Cancer will not steal my little girl’s father. She will not lose me, because I am a Warrior.
Cancer will not rob my wife of the beautiful life we have built. Mrs. H will not lose me, because I am a Warrior.
I will not be silenced or stopped. Instead I will yell and keep pushing forward, kicking ass and taking names.
If I’ve been sick for a long time and I grow weary, I will look at my family and feel the love of my friends, and I will rise.
When I’m feeling better at the end of a chemo cycle, and I start to feel anxious or scared about the next infusion and all the shit that it brings, I will stop and breathe. I will breathe and say “No, cancer, you don’t scare me. If this is the price of admission, then bring it. Is that all you’ve got?!”
When cancer has taken the last of our money, we will find a way. It’s ok, it’s only money. Cancer can’t take away love, and love will always win.
I will not stray from the path, or give in to weakness. I will be strong for my children, and loving to my wife. I will ask for the help I need, and graciously accept the help I’m offered.
I will not fear.
I will not hide.
I will not yield.
Because I am a Warrior.
BOOM! (Gangsta face)
Ok, so I know that was a bit bombastic, but I was hammering on the keyboard like it was a fucking machine gun! It felt great! And hey, if you did find yourself thinking “Bloody’Ell that was a touch bombastic”, then maybe you don’t have cancer. Or Lyme. Or chronic pain. Or depression. Or any of the myriad other “invisible” diseases that people battle every day of their lives. Perspective can be a bitch, right?
This will be the start of my credo. Words I can use as a well of strength to draw from when I’m feeling low. Bombastic me up.
Now that I’m a warrior, and all, I’ve decided to prepare myself like warriors have for... well forever.
You know how Mel put all the blue wode (sp?) on his face in Braveheart?
Or Native Americans use war paint?
Well, I want to do something to prepare myself too.
My brain asked me “What’s the first thing cancer’s going to take?”, and I answered “Well, I guess my hair.”
Brain: Ok, then, so why don’t you take the fight straight to cancer AND get your warrior look on at the same time? You’re the one who said you were gonna come out all swingin’ and curb stompin’ and shit, right? I mean, unless you just talk a big game...
Me: (coughs) No, I’m ready. What do you want me to do.
Brain: Go get your head shaved. Win the first battle before the war even starts. Fight dirty, man! It’s your hair dude, you should say when it goes, not the cancer. Get it proper shaved though, with a fucking straight razor. Full skin. Then you’ll be a Warrior.
So, I did. I went to a hipster barber shop in San Francisco for the full on, straight razor head shave, and it didn’t disappoint.
I had the radio on in my truck listening to some the Cal Berkley station, and when I hit the bridge they kicked off a reggae ska set with The English Beat, U-Roy, The Specials, and The Selector. It was like they were playing it for me.
“Hey, so for the Sunday morning programming, what do you guys wanna do? Ooh, I know lets do a driving-in-to-the-city-to-get-your-head-fucking-shaved-ska-and-reggae set! What do you guys think?” Well, it felt that way at least :)
The barbershop exceeded my expectations. I walked in and a beanie headed, beard wielding hipster greeted me for check in.
“Oh. You’re here for a head shave. Cool. Hey, do you want a drink? Coffee, water, Lagunitas IPA, bourbon...”
“I’ll have a bourbon with a water back, please.” Things were looking really good.
While I sat and waited for my tattooed friend in the skinny capri jeans to bring me my beverages, I availed myself of a gourmet, fuck off looking donut that they had sitting out for customers. As I lifted the beast to my mouth, Steel Pulse’s “Macka Spliff” came on the stereo. Wait a minute- bourbon, donuts, and weed themed reggae music by one of my favorite reggae bands?! I've come to the right place.
After a few moments of donut and bourbon heaven, my barber Priscilla came over to take me to her station. We introduced ourselves and I sat down in chair it was a proper old school barber’s chair, all steel and masculine and shit.
“So, what do you want to do today?” asked Priscilla.
“Well, I’ve come in for a straight razor headshave.” I replied, feeling a bit nervous. Being the badass barber that I now know she is, she asked-
“Do you mind if I ask why? You seem a little.... unsure.”
“No, I’m sure,” I answered. I was nervous too about telling this stranger why I was doing what I was doing. Deep breath. “I have cancer, and I’m starting chemotherapy on Tuesday. I want to choose when my hair goes, not the cancer. So, I’m sure. I hope you can understand.”
“I do understand, I’m a cancer survivor. I really get it. I think you were supposed to end up in my chair today.” she said with a huge, warm, knowing smile. I was dumbstruck.
“Are you serious?! Wow,” I felt my eyes grow wet, the emotion was so strong, “You’ve got me feckin’ tearing up over here....”
“Well, let’s get you clipped, then some nice hot towels, we’ll cream your head up and do it. You ready, Honey?”
“Yeah,” I said “I’m ready.”
Priscilla rocked that straight razor with style. When she was done, she gave me her card.
“When you beat your cancer, come see me ok? Even if it’s not for a haircut, I’ll just wanna... see you.”
We hugged and said goodbye, and I was really struck- again- how connected I feel when I meet other people with cancer or cancer survivors. We are a family of our own, and sadly our numbers are growing all the time.
It was a fantastic, amazing experience and now I’m ready. I've been thinking of some possible alter ego names for my new look- at the moment I'm going with Sex Luther.
Here’s my before and after.
I am a Warrior.
That’s it for now.
Thanks for reading. See you soon.
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