Your AAN President Is Ailing, but Not Failing

This sucks, but here’s the deal.

As a few of you already know, I have a little tumor at the base of my tongue. And although it’s not a big thing, the treatment to delete it is a major deal — full-scale cancer treatment: chemo and radiation, which will last for several months.

During that time, my attendance at AAN events will be spotty because with cancer treatments, it’s just one damn side effect after another, and I’ll never know from day to day how chipper I’ll be. But I have every intention of fulfilling the duties of my office as expected — albeit with a bit less merrymaking.

To answer some obvious questions . . .

  • Is this fatal? Only if neglected. The word “curable” is being used liberally, and I believe it, especially since the folks at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute plan to clobber the thing with WMDs. (The point being not just to cure this, but to forefend its return.)

    More good news: they’ve scanned me every which way and I’m “clean” from the neck down, meaning, this is a localized deal that can be isolated and cured.

  • Will Clif be around the association much? As much as I can. The bugaboos here are the “side effects” of the treatments, and everybody reacts to varying degrees.

    The first nine to 12 weeks of treatment will involve chemotherapy: one week of treatments followed by two weeks of “recovery.” That happens at least thrice. During those two-week “vacations,” I may well be back at my Boston Phoenix desk (at least some of the time).

    The second stage of treatment, which involves my being bombarded with deadly radiation, is much worse to bear. During those (five to seven) weeks, I probably won’t be circulating much.

    After that, there’s some “recovery time,” followed by some surgery to remove the leftovers, followed by more “recovery time.” My availability during that phase is uncertain at this point.

    Then I’ll be good as new.

  • Will Clif’s hair fall out? Alas, it probably will, so don’t be too shocked if I show up some day looking like a cross between ET and the bass player for an emo band.
  • Will Clif lose weight? I’ll try not to, but people getting these treatments invariably do.
  • Why do bad things happen to people like Clif? Good question. Drinking and smoking (yes, yes, you told me so; I get it now) are contributing factors to any cancer, although none of the other “head and neck” victims I’ve met so far admit to having ever smoked. Go figure. Some people (my father being one of them) are cancer prone; things like smoking, drinking, sleeping too close to the neighborhood nuclear reactor, inhaling sawdust, and growing up in Pittsburgh are among the many aggravating environmental factors that can make it happen.
  • Who will do all the shit that Clif does? My chemo treatments have already begun. It all happened quickly, so I wasn’t totally prepared. Eventually, I’ll set myself up to work from home and do that as much as possible (via phone and computer) when I can’t be on the job. I’ll handle as much as I am able and delegate the rest. I promise that the association will never suffer for my absence.

    Good news again: we currently have what most AAN veterans acknowledge as the “best Board ever” — intelligent, involved, hardworking volunteers who took on their positions for all the right reasons. And I couldn’t ask for better support from the executive office.

  • What can we do to help? Nice of you to ask. Actually, all I ask is that people not fear, shun, or avoid me, no matter how repulsive I become. Comments such as “Hey, baldy, you look like crap,” are fine as long as I can feel the love.

See you as soon as I can. Thanks in advance for your help keeping AAN on track.


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