It’s a colloquialism, and I looked it up to make sure that I was using it properly: “Meaning to reveal facts previously hidden,” Wikipedia states, “from a specific target audience—letting an outsider into an inner circle of knowledge.”
In fact, I have been keeping some personal stuff pretty much “close to the vest” for about a year, but as of today? Well, yeah… the cat’s out of the bag. It’s not a rumor; it’s no longer simply hearsay. It’s a fact, Jack—I have cancer. Although I hadn’t planned to discuss this very private matter in a very public way, recent circumstances have led me here today, and let’s face it—hardly the first time I’ve written about myself. It’s happened once or twice over the decade or so that “In My Humble Opinion” (IMHO) has graced the pages of the award-winning River Reporter and is likely (brace yourself) to happen again somewhere down the road.
So, here’s the deal. While I was contemplating what I was going to write about seeing country singers Jon Langston, Cole Swindell and Luke Bryan in the trio’s sold-out “SUNSET Repeat” tour at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts last Thursday, my plus-one, confidante and all-round gal pal extraordinaire Rachelle Carmack, was enjoying the show in the next seat over. However, (unbeknownst to me) she was thinking about how she could “rally the troops” and arrange some sort of social media campaign to help me in this (ugh) “journey.” Since she is a part of my “inner circle,” Rachelle has been privy to the fact that it’s not my first rodeo, (I had esophageal cancer about 14 years ago) and that I’ve been spinning a little out of control lately, fretting over a zillion things, including my overall health, reports from doctors, courses of treatment, pain management, emergency contacts and above all else, worrying, worrying, worrying about what would happen if I predeceased my dog.
And money, of course. I’m always worried about money (who isn’t?), and I’ve been spending thousands of dollars that I don’t have on a variety of holistic treatments for my condition, stage-three bladder cancer. Having been down this road and undergoing conventional (and insured) treatment in the past, I’ve chosen a different path this time and, not surprisingly, my insurance doesn’t cover Chinese herbs, shamans, voodoo doctors, sound therapy, acupuncture and the like. So, Rachelle went “into action” last night and now it’s out there for the world to see.
She posted one of those “Our friend Jonathan Charles Fox has cancer and needs our help” type things on Facebook, and I may have (IMHO) reacted poorly, when she alerted me to the campaign. “It makes me look weak,” I complained via text, “like I can’t take care of myself. I’m not looking for pity,” I typed. “Oy, Gevalt.” I saw the link that she had created online and logged off immediately, not wanting to look at it, still in denial over so many things. “Stop… people love you.” Rachelle texted back. “Embrace it. This is what friends are for.”
“Let’s talk about Luke Bryan,” I shot back, deflecting as best I could.
“What a show, right?” All three, in fact, were wildly entertaining. While I may have been wincing in pain (it really does hurt sometimes), I powered through, photographing Langston (of whom I was completely unaware) first, who opened for Swindell, who opened for Bryan. In true country music style, each of the good ole boys had rabid fans hootin’, hollerin’ and stompin’ their boots in what many would describe as a perfect night, and a fantastic tip o’ the 10-gallon hat to another great season of concerts under the stars. Nights like that remind me that I’m fortunate to have a job that I love and am still able to work. I’ll continue to do just that while navigating this latest chapter of my so-called life that is bound to be fraught with roller-coaster action, amusing adventures, twists, turns and (hopefully) some laughs along the way. I have friends who love me? If you say so, Rachelle, and thanks. The cat may be out of the bag, but I ain’t dead yet.
A few notes on bladder cancer from www.healthline.com:
Around 30 out of 100 men (30%) and more than 15 out of 100 women (more than 15%) survive their cancer for five years or more after they are diagnosed. Stage three means that the cancer has grown through the muscle into the fat layer.
The standard treatment for stage-three bladder cancer is surgery, usually in combination with other therapies.
Be sure to discuss your treatment goals with your doctor. Assess all the potential benefits and risks of each therapy. Some treatments aim for a cure. Others work to slow progression or relieve symptoms. The recommended treatment may depend on your overall health.
If cancer continues to progress or comes back during treatment, you may have to reconsider your options.
For more information regarding this, or other forms of cancer, visit The National Foundation for Cancer Research at www.nfcr.org.
A Go Fund Me campaign has been set up for to help Jonathan with health care costs. Visit www.bit.ly/imhofund for more information.