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My Toxic Life: Part I 

Sleep was terrible last night. I just had the funeral dream. Again. The one I have not had in so many years. The red doors, iron bells and pallbearers who all wear my own face. This is an ugly and recurring slice of childhood psychology. Now more than ever I am wide awake, now to the unavoidable realization that I really, actually do have cancer. The word brews as much mystery as it does anxiety for me. But my basic reality is easily understood. Toxins are on the way. My bloodstream anticipates years of paranoia and fear surrounding the once lethal beast known as cancer and the harsh chemical warfare which follows in its wake. Well, at least my oncologist's name is Dr. Jolly.

Just mention of the word cancer splatters awful graffiti about the interior of my skull. My imagination flickers with black and white footage of humans with open sores and visible bones behind the wire fences somewhere between Auschwitz and Jacob's Ladder. Will I devolve into a corpse's stunt double? Soon I too will look like one of those lost souls. Right? Circled eyes, shrinking skin and slowly approaching death. Or maybe not? The term "maybe" and the average of statistics and percentages is a new language for me these days.

"You have a 90% chance of completely beating this cancer," says Dr. Jolly. No matter the positivity and optimism. No matter the odds. I still have cancer.

A week earlier, I was found in steady panic. I had just drifted back towards Earth from a month-long black hole of insurance company rejections and co-pay denials. In those moments Valium comes in handy, but nothing in life really equipped me for this new cancer experience of mine. When scheduling my cancer treatment orientation I was happily preoccupied by the name of the new doctor referred to me. What kind of a name is "Jolly" for a highly recommended physician? In my post-psychedelic-mind, this name ranks right up there with the likes of Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Who and Dr. Seuss.

Thankfully, the reality of Dr. Jolly is one of confidence and pure honesty. Seriously. My life is in his able hands.

Jason Hatcher is a senior art director at Creative Loafing who is keeping a blog about his treatment for testicular cancer. Check out www.mytoxiclife.com to read the rest of the article.

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