What Deck of Cards Do You Have?

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Why? That’s the question in some form or another I have asked since December 6th, 2023. Getting diagnosed with cancer, let alone kidney cancer at the age of 32, wasn’t on my bingo card to start out 2024, but here we are. Here we are indeed. The group of misfits that range from the young to the old. However, being a “YA” brings with it a unique view. You’re old enough to just be able to see the horizon of your life before your eyes, but young enough to not want to see the end quite yet. What deck of cards were you dealt?  

I have been told by many folks in the cancer community that they, in some form or another, accepted their fate. However, this was coming from people in their 60s, 70s, etc. For me at least, I’m far from ready for that. I want to live. I want to experience. My wife and I just started to plan trying for kids in December and instead, we have a baby tumor. 

I had my surgery on February 19th to remove a 10.5 cm mass and my left kidney all in one surgical process. I’m fortunate to have the surgeon and doctors that I did. With that surgery, I was diagnosed with Stage 2, Grade 2 Clear Cell Renal Carcinoma. The median age for kidney cancer is 60. That’s right… Almost TWICE my age. This deck of cards I was given was “better” than some. I was one of the “lucky” ones. Still though, I found myself asking, “Why?”

With this experience though, I will have scans for most of my life. Kidney cancer is sneaky and likes to pop up years down the road, even after the “magical” five-year mark. I have one kidney now and while you can live a normal life with one kidney, accepting that at 32 years of age is quite unique. I have noticed that each season of life brings with it a unique deck of cards. Do you play them? Do we go “all in?” I have no clue, but I have found that there are some great card players out there to learn from. 

That’s why during this, so far short cancer journey I have been on, the people I have met have been the most “rewarding” part of having cancer. Irony at its finest is finding your “people” during a life changing diagnosis. I have learned from so many that cancer changes a lot, but not everything. I have found that cancer has almost made my vision of what matters ever clearer each passing day. Is that a blessing or a curse? I’m not sure. What I do know is, I was dealt a shitty hand of cards in December and I played what I could and got to the next hand. That makes me one of the lucky ones to keep “going,” whatever that means. 

So, what’s the meaning of these 500 or so words put together? Play. Your. Cards. Go out there and live. It sucks; we all know this. It’s not fair and for most of us, especially YA’s, it interrupts plans that are just now taking shape. I’m not here to tell you to forget it all; that’s stupid and an easy “cop out.” Who are we kidding? We aren’t forgetting this trauma anytime soon. However, if you take your cards and play them, maybe, just maybe, you will get to the next hand. 

By: Sid Sadler