A Perfect 10?

June 9th, 2020

Some chemo, a transplant, a few laughs

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My doctor’s notes from this day, ten years ago.

My life ended ten years ago. But it’s okay; I got over it.

That morning, I guest-lectured in a friend’s class at MSU, had some pizza with her husband, played a quick round of golf with him, then at 3:30 pm, June 9th, 2010, my doctor dropped a death sentence on me.

His sentence was, “This is not a death sentence.”

Sitting in the doctor’s office it was all so surreal, then and looking back at it now. I had two childhood friends who’d died of leukemia. Was I going to be the third — me, who like them, grew up just down the block from a chemical plant?

Okay, so what do we do; what’s the plan, my man?

And that’s how all the fun began. My summer was screwed, along with all my plans for travel, visiting and exploring (sounds familiar these days, doesn’t it?). Turns out, I spent the better part of the next five months in several of Michigan’s finest hotels — complete with private rooms, room service, and expert medical care. Wait, hospitals, not hotels. I liked to pretend, back then, that I was in five star resorts.

Blah, blah, blah … chemotherapy.

Blah, blah, blah … bone marrow transplant.

Blah, blah, blah … I was cured.

So many people — friends, family, strangers — were there for me. I can’t believe how lucky I was.


Ten years later and I’m still cured. No remission for me, cured baby, cured. Yeah, I still deal with after-effects from all the treatments, but they’re much better than the alternative. I’ve tried re-growing my hair — especially during this worldwide pandemonium — but it’s useless.

I’ve tried to write this 10-year piece for a while and it all comes out mish-mashed. So I thought instead, I’d just go through and share some of the things I wrote while it was all happening.

Some of ‘em appeared in my book A “cute” Leukemia. Some were just random scrawlings.

In the hospital, I ordered an iPad, which made my wife instantly suspicious of this whole leukemia ruse. When the doctor said he also loved Cappuccino Blasts and I could drink them with reckless abandon, Marci knew the fix was in.

When life is totally uncool, make Kool Aid.

My brother Scott told the nurse, “It’s okay, he likes the bigger needles.” Then, as if she were in on the joke he continued, “Rodney, why doesn’t she use the kind you normally use for heroin?”

The technician told me to be careful with the chemo. “That stuff’s dangerous; you don’t want any of it getting on you. That could be really bad.” The fact that I’m imbibing it intravenously by the quart seemed lost on him.

They told me to actually flush the toilet twice each time I peed, to push the chemicals from my body further down deep into the hospital sewers. Seriously. I have no joke for that.

Thankfully, my first round of Chemoscarepy is coming to an end.

Tomorrow I check into the hospital for my next round of chemo. I don’t fear it though; I spent half an hour in Jo-Ann Fabrics this morning and after that, any form of torture doesn’t phase me one bit.

I was talking to my family about bone marrow donors and I mixed up my words, due to chemo brain, and called ‘em boner donors.

Working on our Christmas card we laughed hard, then rejected the phrase, “Thankfully Daddy didn’t go to heaven; we wish you a happy 2011.”

Some primitive cave drawings are in the news. But wanna know my terrible secret? I think they’re crap. My nieces and nephews can draw far better and they’ve never even seen an antelope slaughter.

And hey, I got to read this piece on NPR. It’s about golden showers.

These last ten years have been mostly pretty good (well, apart from these last ten weeks or so). I’ve been through some difficult summers before and I have every faith we can all get through this difficult one.

I want to thank everyone, all of you who have helped me in ways tiny and tall. I could not have come this far without your love, laughter and support.



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