I wanna tell you guys something, put a bee in your bonnet, tug on your coat a bit…

I walk slowly down the passageway with a careful eye on the people who pass me from behind and the people who pass me the same way that ships pass on the open sea, going opposite directions. Everyone is flying their colors. It’s kinda an unwritten rule that. To identify yourself when you are in the building – kinda helps to break the ice, kinda serves as an unspoken introduction, kinda helps you find your peeps.

The place is full of veterans. I see WWII vets, Korea vets, Vietnam vets, Desert vets from the clashes in the Middle East. I see Navy and Army vets, Air Force vets, lots of Marines and even a couple of Coasties. Today I wore a simple watch cap with a submarine insignia patch sewn on the front.

I see vets of every race and gender, homeless vets, disabled vets. I see vets from all over the country, all over the world. We all have some things in common:

Obviously, we are all veterans and; although it’s not always obvious, we’re all sick.

I haven’t talked about it here but it’s time for me to bring it up. Last September, I was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. In early October I had surgery, and in November began chemo. I’m still doing it, too. Have about 8 more weeks to go. I have great doctors and wonderful support at home. The prognosis is good and I am convinced that 20 years from now I’ll be telling stories about all this shit.

It has taken a big bite out of my life though.

I don’t have a lot of energy, I sleep a lot, I don’t write as much as I would like.

I’m still working but I’m working shorter days.

I used to be invulnerable. I will be again!

I don’t regret this bump in the road – I am celebrating! I haven’t become spiritual; or embraced any new, or forgotten, gods – but I am learning. I think I might even come out of this a better person.

Maybe more tolerant, maybe more empathetic, understanding, patient, accepting…

New and improved?




15 thoughts on “VA

  1. There isn’t a reader of this post whose life hasn’t been touched by cancer, or another serious illness or condition, in some way. As a result, you have many people sending you all sorts of happy healing thoughts and prayers after reading your post. I’m sure of it. And we look forward to the stories I know are brewing in your head about your fellow vets and time spent at the VA 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve been following your writing for a few months now. It’s great. I love your prose and the way you craft things. This one has me stumped though: Is it fiction or biographical?
    If the latter, you have my best of wishes – be strong, Sir.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve had it twice — I’m still here. I got through it so well that I had time for major heart surgery, too. AND I’m still here. I just turned 70 the other day — and I’m alive.

    These days, I figure if I am enjoying life, then life is good.

    Just one thing: it’s really common to get depressed when you finish all the stuff that goes into getting through cancer. It’s just your body’s reaction to the stress and the intensity of the experience. Sometimes, doctors mention it. Sometimes, they don’t but it is common. Knowing about it can help you deal with it. Hang on in there. You have a LOT of company!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Marilyn. I’m not one to get depressed but I appreciate the heads up, never know what’s going to happen. My doctors are great. They all work for Stanford and the VA. I agree with you – I’m enjoying everything I can these days.
      Stay well my friend, stay well!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Well, I had no idea, Thom, although it seemed to me that you’d been posting much less often than even a year ago. We have multiple veterans on each side of the family (now mostly Vietnam and Desert Storm remaining), and I worry about them, not just (for some) the psychological tolls of war. Other than increasingly military spending to buy warships and other big toys, I don’t see the current administration doing more to hel veterans at all (or anyone else who is anything other than rich or extremely rich), not for PTSD or TBI, not for Agent Orange or hearing loss or cancer (et al). But anyway, sorry to be negative there. I wish I had the wisdom you divulge at the end of this post. I wish you the best always, for what that’s worth! Be well, writing friend!

    Liked by 1 person

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