Having cancer is like being kidnapped, being 1)harried to a dark and deadly place by an unexpected 2)assailant who has pressed the cold barrel of a gun to your skull. You might be strong enough or lucky enough to escape, to survive. Then again, you might not. And when you're 3)cornered in that 4)bleak and narrow place, you can't help but think about mortality. Will I be alive in six months? In six years? Sixty years?
But after going through Stage 3 5)prostate cancer and its treatment, I find that I no longer fear death. Post-cancer, more than ever, I am 6)stung by the fact that I am here, that I am this I, this7)improbable soul. For me, death is no longer abstract. I have wrestled with death, 8)in the guise of the cancer that 9)fed on my body. And I agreed to let death, in the form of 10)radiation, 11)pulse into my flesh so that it could kill my 12)mutinous cancer cells.
I have even had the privilege—and I don't use that word 13)lightly—to watch death at work inside my body. I was hospitalized for six weeks in 1984 with an acute case of 14)ulcerative colitis. Before my entire 15)ravaged 16)colon was removed, my doctors let me peer through the 17)scope and take a look at it as it died. The colon was18)ablaze, like a 19)bone-dry 20)bale of hay soaked in gasoline and then set afire. I saw yellow-white 21)explosions in my 22)gut, and it seemed as if23)magma 24)seeped through my 25)bowels.