The Fat Man of Cancer

by Chris Battle, survivor on November 23, 2010

In the beginning it did not occur to me to question my doctors. When I first limped into the emergency room precious little entered my mind at all save the paranoid fear that my wife had slipped carburetor fluid into my cereal. My insides were writhing. I was a little unhinged. My scalp wet with sweat. I did not dismiss the idea that a vicious little man, preternaturally tiny at birth, had crept into my small intestines and was attempting to wrench the juice out of my appendix for some kind of exotic cocktail.

With a CT scan in hand, the emergency room physician assured me that there was neither man nor beast gorging on my internal organs. It was something else. It was me. It was rebellious cells of my own making gone mad with ambition, attempting to create entirely new organs of unknown evolutionary purpose.

“You have a tumor in your kidney,” he said. “About the size of my fist.”

He held up his fist.

He was a large man.

“The kidney needs to come out immediately.”

The rainbow of pain meds did soothe the holocaust in my abdomen but did little to ease my paranoia. What kind of sick bastard says such things to a guy when he’s already down? Was he harvesting organs for the Chinese black market? Could I trust a man in a white coat and receding hairline? The sweat on my forehead began to bubble.

And another thing – did this guy just tell me I had cancer?

Editor’s Note: The above is an opening excerpt from Chris Battle’s essay “The Fat Man of Cancer,” which describes the encounters of him and his wife as they navigate a field of doctors and advice and treatment options after his diagnosis of Renal Cell Carcinoma. The article was first published in Arkansas Life magazine .

Read the full essay: The Fat Man of Cancer

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