BLANCO: The “Cancel Cancer” Chronicles

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.

I had a strange swelling in my cheek that just kept getting bigger and bigger. In short, that’s what cancer is.

My future has more clarity, but I’m taking this news in bits. I am absorbing how my life is going to change. We often think of surgery as improving our life, but in my case, it’s saving my life. My life is about to be permanently changed. I do know that my eyesight will be limited and that I won’t be winning any beauty pageants.¬† On the bright side, if your lifelong dream was to be more handsome than me, well, you will finally have that dream come true.

Oh, I do try to hang on to my sense of humor.

It was nerve-wrecking waiting to meet with the cancer doctors. The one thought that kept going through my mind was that they could very well tell me that there was nothing they can do and that this was terminal. As I sat down with the doctor and they explained the surgery that I will be going through, it slowly dawned on me that I have a fighting chance. Eventually I asked if I have a chance of survivability, and they responded the affirmative. They went on to say that this will be a complicated surgery.

Of course, any time there is a surgery there is a chance that you don’t come out on the other end, but I was already aware of that. For me, I was just relieved to find out that I have a fighting chance.¬† I went in prepared to hear the worst and hoped for the best.

I suppose I’m documenting my emotions to give other people a chance to peek into what it’s like to deal with a monster like this. I don’t speak for everybody, and different people will take this news in many different ways. If you’re dealing with somebody who just found out they have cancer, I hope this helps you understand them.

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, yet I really haven’t dealt with any of those emotions. Maybe those are still coming and I have to deal with it, but in many ways, I’ve already dealt with it. I’ve long accepted the inevitability of my own demise. The graveyards are full of people who were better than I’ll ever be. In 100 years, who among us today will still be breathing? We are not that special. I am not so special that I should live forever.

But that does not mean I have not had my share of emotions. The most notable for me is the numbness. I can try to crack a joke, in fact, I can still muster up a light hearted comment about this situation. I can make fun of myself and my personal situation. Yet after seeing that I made a light-hearted comment at my situation, another person made a light-hearted comment about my situation. I didn’t find it funny. I wasn’t mad or offended, in fact, their little joke wasn’t terrible, I just couldn’t even muster a smile at the quip.

I find myself at times with sudden irritability. As the joke wasn’t terrible and meant to put a smile on my face, it just rubbed me the wrong way. While that situation didn’t crawl up my spine, there have been times where people who mean well are saying words that sound like fingernails on a chalkboard. While I want to scream the long version of STFU, I manage to maintain my cool.

The truth is, it’s not their fault, they are trying to be helpful. What they don’t understand is that I’m processing a lot of information and so much of it is critical. Even though what the person is telling me may be important, my mind is already well occupied with information that is more important and more immediate needs. Imagine being in Kyiv right now. Sure the upcoming mayor’s election is very important, but I’m sure they are a little preoccupied with the bullets flying and the bombs dropping.

While I’m not in Ukraine, I have my share of bombs being dropped and bullets flying. I’m processing a lot and it’s coming at me so fast. To be honest, there are probably answers that I need to know that I simply can’t ask because I cannot process it yet.

I haven’t lost my cool with anybody, but I have been tested. I can see how somebody in a similar situation can just start yelling at the people who are caring for them. While it’s still their responsibility to treat people with respect, especially those who are helping you out the most, it can be difficult at times. If you’re in the other shoes, keep in mind that person is processing a lot as it is and overloading their circuits will cause a fuse to blow. While what you have to say may be important, or “right,” or moral, that timing is important.

For me, I just have to mentally postpone what they are saying and recognize that they mean well.

I suppose that is the denial stage, that when somebody says something that is hitting home that I haven’t come to terms with yet. Perhaps I’m holding on to hope that I shouldn’t be, and those realities are interfering with my own personal plans. I suppose that would be a fair statement, I am a fighter and by nature I deny just allowing things to happen without a fight. If that’s the denial stage, I’ll be happy staying here for a while, giving every ounce to the fight that I can.

There is one thing that I feel. That is the constant state of intensity. I’ve been on this level of intensity before, but it has not lasted so long. It’s just a continuous battle, a fight that wakes you up in the middle of the night wanting to solve the problem but can do nothing and wait. You want to jump with both feet into the fire and get it over with, and at the same time postpone and prepare. Time however is not your choice, nor on your side.

I’ll do my best to tell keep you updated with this situation, but post surgery is when the long road to recovery begins and I have no idea if these are my lasts posts I’ll ever write or if I’ll be able to write soon after.

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