One year later: Sheldon’s journey with cancer and Crohn’s
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - February 20, 2020, I underwent prostate cancer surgery. It was a good day in my life, because during the procedure my cancer was removed and gone from my body. Now before we go any further, that was my decision to take this route, it may not be the route for anyone going through this same battle. There are other treatments and I recommend you do your research and pray before making a final decision.
It’s now been a little more than one year, and I still deal with side effects from the surgery, but overall, I am as healthy as I was before my diagnosis. And that says something because at the same time I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Crohn’s is a life-altering illness that to this day I still cannot comprehend, just that I deal with it daily, with new eating habits and every two months an infusion treatment.
Today, though, I am talking about how this has all impacted me internally and emotionally. It’s never easy to talk about myself and something personal, however I know I am not the only person dealing with something that is life changing and this might help. Let you know you are not alone on your journey.
Over the course of this year, I have dealt with depression, fear, anger, frustration and at the same time love and support from family, friends, and total strangers. Without this support I know I would not be where I am today. I am not healed, but thankful for so much!
I never asked ‘why me,’ when I learned I had cancer, instead it was quite simple to turn it over to God and my physicians. It was easy because there was nothing I could do about it other than pray. So, I did and, in my mind,, I was good with whatever the outcome. However, in the aftermath of the surgery and dealing with recover and side effects I was miserable. Bedridden and with a catheter, sorry too much information, but it’s part of the story. Anyway I was depressed and in pain. I could not do anything and didn’t feel like moving. I was one big lump watching television every second of the day and well into the night. I needed people to bring me food, help me to the bathroom. I did not want to go anywhere or leave the house. Part of it was the recovery, but this went on for weeks. Which felt even longer to me! I was not used to needing so much help. And I was not that nice of a patient. The catheter remained in for 11 days. Eleven days is too long, it tests your manhood. I still cringe thinking about it, and this also affected how I felt about myself. Shallow, but it’s how I felt. Once it was removed, I rested another week before returning to work. Which brought a little bit of normalcy which helped with my mind. Yet I was still nowhere near 100 percent, but I had to do it for my own sanity and for my family. My wife, sister, mother-in-law and children, waited on me hand and foot and dealt with my tantrums, or the difficulties of my Jekyll and Hide persona. It was not easy for them, but they did not complain, and it is just another reason to love them.
I have talked before about losing close to 50 pounds, in what seemed like, overnight and not being able to recognize the person in the mirror. It was not from the cancer, that was the Crohn’s episode I suffered, which was the first time for me. It was horrible. And being a person of vanity, I admit it, I struggled with that part of not seeing me in the mirror. So, I stopped looking for a long time. And even when I returned to work, it was not me, and while some viewers mentioned something, it was never ugly, just wondering if I was okay. Most people just sent notes of encouragement, through the mail or on social media. As for my colleagues at WBRC, they were fantastic and I was, admittingly, very impressed and appreciative. I don’t think this is the norm in the industry and I am very thankful for being at a television station that is filled with compassionate people. The outpouring of support and prayers within the community gave me a lift of hope and renewed strength in people, or it was a renewed hope in myself.
As the weeks and months went by, I was able to start putting the weight back on, but it was a slow process. And with each passing day, or added-on pound, I could see my old self on the outside, but on the inside, I was frustrated that it did not happen quicker. I had to learn to deal with that frustration and during this time learn to appreciate what I had, who I was and all the blessings in my life. I know I make it sound like it is all about me, but I also was learning to look for other people’s needs. Seeing people help me or support me showed a deficiency in myself that I may not have learned. That is to look to help others, outside of my immediate family, and I think I am improving to see if someone needs help. I am trying to pay closer attention to other people’s needs. Somehow this journey I have been on, well this has helped me in my life.
And to top it all off, while I was going through my ordeal, guess what, the world was going through its own pandemic. I was not alone feeling miserable, I had company and lots of it. I wish it had never happened and families had never lost loved ones, it pains me to hear and see the stories. How could I feel so bad and selfish about myself, when people all over the world were dealing with something so horrible and something so unique no one knew how to behave or how to react? Everything we took for granted and that’s exactly how I felt about myself. I felt entitled, I don’t know if that’s the right way to call it but took health for granted.
Not any longer. I know my mortality and am good with it and that gives me hope for the future. Not just for me but for all of us. We all went through something, I was not alone, and I believe we will persevere and be stronger because of it. That is my hope. That is my prayer for all of us.
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