Editor’s Note: Hayride contributor and all-around conservative hero Jeff Blanco has been diagnosed with cancer. A GiveSendGo fundraiser has been established to aid him with medical and living expenses as he takes on a fight for his life. Please give whatever you can.
“Hi Mr. Blanco, I’d like to talk to you about your scheduled surgery, is now a good time?”
My heart sank when I heard those words.
The surgery was scheduled before blood tests, additional scans that provided more detail, and other things were run. It was in my head that the cancer could have been worse than what they originally saw. With hesitation I responded in the affirmative. Fortunately, it was good news… well as good as I could have hoped anyway. The surgery will continue as planned and there is no need for any changes.
Up until this point I haven’t really explained what the cancer is. Many people have problems with their sinuses and you may know somebody or be somebody with those very sinuses problems. Terms such as deviated septum, Nasal Polyps, and Inverted Papilloma are terms that I’ve become very familiar with. This clogs your sinus passage and mucus fills your sinus cavities. I am not a doctor, so it is possible that I am not describing it correctly, but from my personal experience, it’s like being consistently congested. It seems to be a common problem as I’ve met several people who have been through the sinus surgery, had polyps removed, and the deviated septum fixed. In the first half of 2020, I had two surgeries on my sinuses to remove polyps, but a change in fortunes caused me to focus attention on other aspects of my life. Yes, 2020 was rough on most of us, as was 2021. I suppose you wouldn’t have to think too hard on who benefitted the most out of the pandemic while the rest of us suffered the consequences for their benefits.
When I went into the doctor, my sinuses had visibly swelled up and that inverted papilloma had turned malignant. I do think it is important that if somebody close to you sounds nasally a lot, or has consistent trouble breathing through their nose and/or has problems with sinus infections, it my be advisable to go see an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) and have your sinuses checked out.
Again, I’m not a doctor, I’m just speaking from personal experience.
The surgery will remove the tumor from my face. Cancer in the face. That’s just hard for me to understand. I am in great company though as Ceasar Rodney also had cancer in his face. If you don’t know who Ceasar Rodney is, he made a great sacrifice for the Independence of the country. Delaware was a divided state on the issue of Independence with the deciding vote at home on his death bed. That vote was Ceasar Rodney who was suffering from cancer. Against his doctor’s wishes, Rodney rode all night to get to Philadelphia to cast the deciding vote for Delaware. Without his vote, Delaware doesn’t vote for Independence and the Declaration of Independence fails. One man, who risked dying on his way to Philadelphia, made all the difference. Why wouldn’t he be the guy on the back of the Delaware quarter?
But I’m no Ceasar Rodney. I don’t have to ride a horse to travel and the future of the free world doesn’t rest on my shoulders. I’m just some guy who is fortunate enough to go through this at a time of advanced medicine.
As you can imagine, this is going to involve some complicated surgery. The tumor will be removed, my upper jaw will be reconstructed and some of my leg will replace the skin on my face. I’ll be Leg Face, but I suppose that’s better than other parts of my body they could take it from. On the other hand, that would make some of the potential name-calling more accurate. I don’t expect to win any beauty pageants, but perhaps I’m expecting the worst and praying for the best. I’m embracing my new look the best that I can before I know what I’ll look like. Perhaps I can rock a fedora and cane and look dapper while doing it.
Maybe I can don a pair of Locs and put a long feather in the hat and totally rock badassery. Or maybe I’ll just need to go to a farm to be able to pick up chicks.
The truth is, when I come out of this surgery, there’s a good chance you may not recognize me, but that’s okay, I probably won’t recognize you either. My recovery from the surgery will take a week or more, after which, I should be able to report back in.
These final days going into surgery I’m in good spirits. I’m thinking of the Iron Maiden song Die With Your Boots on “If you’re gonna die, die with your boots on If you’re gonna try, well, stick around, Gonna cry, just move along If you’re gonna die, you’re gonna die”. In the days of my youth there were times that I got into fist fights. I was always afraid before the fight, which you should be, it’s respecting your opponent. But once that first punch was thrown, the fear switch went off. There was no fear, only attack mode. There is no point in being afraid, in taking pity on myself, or being bitter about this. There is just a respect for this opponent, and attack mode is on. It’s time to be a warrior.
I don’t know how this ends, but I’ll give every ounce of will to this fight that I have before me. Fear is contagious, courage is inspirational.