DYING ON MY FEET (PARTIAL) SYNOPSIS
THE MIRROR REFLECTS AND IMAGE, BUT THE SOUL HOLDS THE TRUTH…!
A special message to all of my readers, especially; the young and impressionable!
My medical records begin like this:
The patient is an extremely muscular, well-built, 37-year-old man in minimal distress. He is diag-nosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia. Otherwise, he is in excellent health.
There is no doubt in my mind that it was the grace of God that saved me from what doctors thought was certain death!
Their optimism grew because of the love that I had for the temple that the Lord had given to me.
I did not defile it with, legal nor illegal drugs of any kind; no cigarettes, no steroids, no alcohol, no tobacco, no “powders” from the health food store or any other store.
1. Why is this significant, glad you asked, I will quote two of them for you.
“Wow…, Mr. Lars, after running all kinds of test and looking under the microscope and observing other physical aspects of your body; you have the insides of a sixteen-year-old.”
2. “Unfortunately; for many patients that we see, we have to get their bodies prepared to withstand such radical and invasive treatments.
They have abused their bodies with alcohol, drugs, tobacco and other substances.
Because you have taken excellent care of your body, it is more likely that you will respond favorably to the treatments”.
Preserve your temple…! Treat it right and it well serve you well!
God’s Grace and Mercy inspired me to pen “Dying on My Feet; My Journey Times Two”
Ψ We start to die from the moment that we are born!
Most individuals would say that I had it all. The picture of health, a better than average (Golden Gloves heavyweight boxing champion at 17, and a possible NFL star in the making) athlete, a student with better than average academic potential and a loving, caring, mother; coupled with great mentors and role-models.
God’s blessings allowed me to have been a highly successful, teacher, motivator, football, basketball, and track coach and school administrator.
I did not and do not consume alcoholic beverages, smoke or dip any tobacco, snort, shoot, nor ingest any form of drugs, legal or illegal. Nor did I use any “medical marijuana” to address my severe nausea during my chemotherapy sessions.
I am blessed to be a born again, believer, I most assuredly acknowledge that I am wrought with many flaws and imperfections. I embrace my blessing to be; a community activist, a much-read poet, a servant to mankind, a great friend, a great brother, a great father and a great husband.
Ultimately, God in his infinite wisdom allowed me to contract one of the most deadly and untreatable forms of cancer known to man; I was diagnosed with; Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia. There was no known effective, proven, medical treatment for this type of leukemia, in 1990.
Cancer, six of the most dreaded combinations of the twenty-six letters of the alphabets that one can encounter. It is one of the most feared and complicated illnesses contracted by man.
Imagine being told that you not only have cancer, but you had a form of cancer that had virtually no proven TREATMENT and the best that you could hope for was an experimental procedure!
One of my closet and dearest friends; Dr. Larry Daniels, initially discovered the abnormalities in my blood due to my incessant complaining about an annoying “rash” in my chest.
My initial purpose for being at the clinic was because; I would carry my football players to Dr. Daniels at the David Raines medical clinic weekly to receive treatment for various injuries derived from practices and football games.
I had developed a very irritating clump (rash) of dry bumps right in the center of my chest. The itching was continuous and very annoying. I mentioned this to Dr. Daniels; he prescribed me some anti-itch cream, and we figured that that would be the end of the problem.
Much to my displeasure the bumps did not go away, nor did the medication stop the itching, so he prescribed another type of ointment; it did not get the job done either.
I became very concerned and mentioned it to him again, he stated “that’s not like you to complain about anything”, why don’t you let me take a blood test, you are probably having an allergic reaction to some food or it could be from the sun and the heat.”
I reluctantly lamented, his nurse came to the door, beckoned for Dr. Daniels and whispered, “What’s wrong with your friend?” He stated; “what do you mean, what’s wrong with my friend,” she said, you’d better look at these test results.
He re-entered the room with this very complexed look on his face, cleared his throat, and stated very matter of factly; “Melvin, ( I want her?) to get another sample of blood, just to be safe and to make sure we haven’t missed anything”. I jokingly stated no…, man…, you know how I hate needles.
He was not smiling as he usually was and re-stated his first request. After seeing the seriousness in his eyes and hearing the sternness in his voice, of course; I became more concerned and agreed to allow the nurse to “stick” me again…
Upon his return to his office, he had this look on his face that I had never witnessed before. He stated; “I have some serious concerns about the way your blood is looking, I need you to go and see Dr. Byron Jackson. I have already phoned him and he will see you as soon as you arrive. ”I stated, you mean you want me to go now? He said yes, I need you to go now”.
Upon my arrival, Doctor Jackson and I went through all of the medical preliminaries, prior to his nurse taking a blood sample. She returned to his office with the same identical look that doctor Daniel’s nurse had.
He told me that he needed me to go to an ophthalmologist for an eye exam and that the eye exam would reveal some things medically to either con-firm his pre-diagnosis are refute it. Doctor Jackson referred me to ophthalmologist Doctor “Reginald Casey.”
My examination with the ophthalmologist was interesting indeed (We will discuss his findings in further chapters).
The three of them consulted and shared their findings, and I was ultimately referred to the Schumpert Cancer Treatment Center in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Dr. Christopher McDonald came into the examination room, greeted me, introduced himself, and said in a very firm manner; “You have a very rare form of leukemia. This type of leukemia is known as Acute Promyelocytic leukemia, and, unfortunately, there is no known treatment for this form of leukemia.”
“We can experiment with aggressive dosages of chemotherapy and “pray” that it arrests the cancer and cause it to go into remission; even if it does go into remission, using this experimental procedure, we cannot know how long the remission would last. In the meantime, we will put your name on the national registry for a bone marrow donor. It is very difficult to find donors that will likely be a transplant match, however. Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to find matches for any one. It is especially exacerbated, for monitories due to the low rate of minority donors. Moreover, even if there were a high number of donors, finding a match remain ex-tremely elusive.”
“Generally the best option is to start with parents and siblings.”
“We will need to begin the process by checking your parents and your siblings to see if any of them are a possible match.”
I must caution you though, we do not often find parents and or family members that are matches, if no match is found among your relatives and friends and we do not get a donor we look for alternate methods to try to arrest the cancer.”
There is a procedure known as an autologous bone marrow transplant.
With this procedure, we extract your bone marrow, treat it with chemo in an attempt to eradicate all of the cancerous cells and reintroduce the “clean” marrow into your bodies to regenerate itself throughout your body.
Dr. McDonald continued by saying; this is only an experimental procedure; we cannot guarantee that we can harvest the needed amount of bone marrow to conduct the proceedings.
I hope that you have completed your family and do not plan on having additional children, because if you choose to submit to this experiment; the chemo will render you sterile.
In approximately three weeks you will begin to lose your hair; don’t worry the hair will eventually come back, but it will probably come back straight and white.
You will more than likely lose between sixty, seventy, maybe, eighty pounds (60-80).
Brace yourself; I am thinking, cool, I need to drop a few pounds anyway, I do not need this extra weight, I do not play ball anymore, I have been big, fat, big boned, whatever you would like to call it all of my life, so I definitely did not have a problem with the projected weight loss.
Well, it did not happen, the weight loss I mean, I lost a total of sixteen (16) pounds, yes sixteen pounds, now I ask you; how cruel was that…!?
For those of you that are not familiar with chemo-therapy, its effects on the body can be and are often devastating, and it makes you feel sicker than cancer does.
I will share more on this in future chapters…!
The great Dr. Pastor Rance Allen says it best in the lyrics of one of his song: “I looked in the mirror and what did I see another one of God’s miracles looking back at me, He’s a miracle worker”!
May 11, 2015