May is Head and Neck Cancer Awareness month, and you can get a free screening next Friday (Friday week, that is) by checking out this site. As I point out here in this short clip, the best thing going in the fight against cancer is early detection.
It took me a while to go the ER, which eventually led me to a dentist, which eventually led me to an oral surgeon, which eventually led me to Mass Eye and Ear. When I think about the whole experience, what I'm most grateful for is the fact that I had access to the dentists at Hanscom, and then to the oral surgeon in Winchester, who could reach out to the pathologists at Wright-Patt, and then get the referral to a world-class facility like MEEI. If I lived in conditions like those of the people I met two days ago in Kabul, I wouldn't be writing about the experience now.
The doctors and staff at MEEI took incredibly good care of me, and actually went to extraordinary medical lengths to save my career by removing enough lymph nodes to conclusively rule out metastasis and thereby spare me from radiation. They also went to bat for me when I explained how much I wanted to come on this deployment, and they found a way to make it work with the check-up schedule.
Like I said when I first blogged about all of this, I don't want to become "cancer guy." I'm not against yellow bracelets, kitschy pink products about "saving ta-tas," or even the gratuitous use of the word 'survivor' (aren't we all?), but that stuff just isn't me. I don't even think I've dropped the 'C-bomb' here on the site since October.
Still, I'm not going to miss a chance to open my time, heart, or pocketbook to the people who develop cutting-edge technology that saves lives... I mean, your forearm turning into your tongue...who can believe it? I almost feel like I've moved so far along in terms of speech and appearance that I sometimes 'forget' the whole thing happened. It did, though, and as Fate would have it, my daily commute for the next couple years will have me walking right past MEEI in the morning and evening. I don't have to dwell, or even stop my feet from shuffling across the Longfellow Bridge, but for at least a split-second when I look up at the monolith hovering over Charles St., the strongest emotion I'll feel will be gratitude.