Eight years ago, at the age of sixty, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Cancer is an ugly word. Sometimes you’re lucky and you live; sometimes you’re not so lucky and you die. Through it all you try to remain optimistic but at the same time you prepare for the worst. While undergoing chemotherapy and radiation I began to write this memoir. If I wasn’t going to make it I wanted to leave something behind that was more lasting than some faded photographs. I was lucky back then. The cancer went into remission and I went on with my life.
I knew I was still dying, just not as noticeably or as dramatic. My writing stopped and my memoir was happily put on hold. Unfortunately the cancer returned after five years of good behavior. Recurrences are an ominous sign. Once again the thought of death was pushed to the forefront of my life. My new treatments included experimental drugs and a stem cell transplant. The survival statistics were not good. I had more things to say so I began writing again.
What follows are my thoughts about life and death. The Defining Moment is not some morbid tale about cancer. It is about those occurrences in a person’s life that define who he or she is. This is my story.