In the fall of 2005, weeks after selling a pitch to turn the Terminator movie franchise into a scary robot television show, I ate a bad farmers market burrito and ended up with kidney cancer. It’s not an uncommon diagnostic journey for the disease: You set out expecting something familiar — for me, food poisoning — but quickly find yourself at a partial lower left nephrectomy.
You can pretend you know what it feels like to have cancer, or how you’d respond to the news. But you’re lying to yourself. That’s okay. Lying to ourselves about mortality is what separates us from cats.
I spent most of my time crying. Well, crying, pulling myself together, rocking my son to sleep, crying more and then taking Ativan so my wife could rock me to sleep.
A month after my diagnosis I fell asleep staring at the surgical theater lights and listening to the opening verses of Born to Run thanks to a sympathetic anesthesiologist.