Tender Mercies

Well, over the last few weeks I have been poked and prodded and scanned. The general consensus of the doctors is that the treatments worked and the cancer is gone. I will have another scan in October to check it again. I don’t know that I have won the war, but I do feel like the battle is mine.

A fourth of July visit with my beautiful mother, Jane Schulz

A fourth of July visit with my beautiful mother, Jane Schulz

And battle scars—I have a few. My shoulder has a gouge taken out of it due to the removal of a tumor that was on my carotid artery. My voice box has been removed along with the throat cancer tumor and my voice.  A tube with a back flow valve has been surgically inserted between my trachea and my esophagus allowing regulated air to flow into my mouth cavity and thereby allowing  me to talk. There is a button on my throat that I can push to direct air through this tube when I want to talk. It is a very simple device but difficult to explain.

So I have a new sense of hope. When I think of cancer I think of a movie (The Shootist, 1976) that I saw with Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne in which Stewart looked at Wayne and said, “You have a cancer.”  I knew right then that the character was going to die. Up until recently I guess my mind just accepted cancer as being the kiss of death. Now I know different. I know that in many cases, finding the cancer is the first step in treating and eradicating it.

I have been learning about my “store bought” voice for five or six months and have been slowly gaining confidence in using it. My writing group, The Rome Area Writers (Rome, Georgia) was due to meet last week and the writing prompt was “Tender Mercies.” I decided to write something short to read for the group and just find out how much progress I was making. The reading went rather well considering, and I felt good about it. Here’s the piece:

Tender Mercies.

She is a nice looking forty-five

Year old third generation

Trust fund baby who had

Married a second generation

Trust fund baby.


I have just gotten through wit

A three year cancer battle

In which I lost my voice

And sustained several other scars.

“You look good, John.”

She said as she gave me a perfunctory hug.

She stood back and looked at me

“How are you doing,” she asked

And nodded toward the button on my throat,

“Other than that…”


“How insensitive,” I thought to myself

“I’m feeling great,” I said with a big smile.

She replied, “I’ve been praying for you, and

We put you on the prayer list at my church.”

I thanked her kindly.


On the way home I thought to myself

“Four years ago

Four years ago I would have been devastated

To think I would have a button on my throat

That I had to push any time I wanted to talk.”

And I thought some more.


You know

There is nothing like five months

Without being able to talk,

To make one really appreciate such a button

I pulled into the driveway,

Home from a long day.


“Welcome home,” my wife said

She smiled and gave me more than a perfunctory hug.

She backed off and looked at me

With a shine in her eye…

“How was your day?” she asked.


If you still need your plant fix for the week, go see the website for my new hero, Jake Hobson. He has taken Japanese pruning techniques to England. Wow

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?


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Now available as an ebook at Amazon–read it on your Kindle

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