Tuesday, June 21, 2011

That's All Folks!

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Recently my mother called to say hello. She asked "How are you?" I said I was good. "Really, how are you?" I assured her I was fine. She then said jokingly something about "Liar, liar, pants on fire." 

I wasn't lying per se. Physically my body is in pain, me though I'm okay/fine/good and soon my body will catch up to my mind.

Today was my nineteenth radiation appointment out of twenty. I met with the oncologist for the last time for about a month or two. In about six weeks my hip should be all healed up and me off the crutches. I'll be getting more CT scans, blood tests and whatever other fluids they see fit to test. 

THE CALL came about four months ago. A tumor the size of a kiwi was found on my hip. Later we learned I had plasmacytoma, a cancer. There is no numbered "cancer stage" for it, just something you have or don't have and some tumors are bigger then others. My oncologist said it was possible it was there for five years more or less. Of course there is no way of really knowing. 

For days and weeks after THE CALL my head was spinning. At times I just wanted to die and wanted to live to be 103; run away or never leave my room, scream, be silent; wished that no one knew, yet I wanted to talk to EVERYONE about it; prayed, wondered what the point of prayer was. When I watched TV I wanted to be literally absorbed into the screen and get to say witty one liners at the right time, then after watching I would vow to never watch TV again. 

Within 48 hrs I wasn't interested in going over all the details anymore to whomever called. I was glad people cared, however to no fault of anyone, it simply withdrew more energy than it gave. 

Those thoughts and more would swoop through my mind in a nano-second or two. It was exhausting. Just thinking about that whirlwind now is too stressful to relive. 

A day or two after THE CALL I was mid conversation with a friend, I said "I'll blog about the details and send you the link." It made sense to blog about my doctor appointments to keep my family and friends in the loop if they wanted to be. Several conversations I have had with some of my family and friends clearly indicates they don't read the blog - so whoever you are I'm glad you have read and shared this journey with me. Expressing what I was feeling about my appointments and new life, made the surreal real and was the most therapeutic thing I did.

Being diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer that mainly senior citizens get (two out of three who are black) struck me odd. For those that don't notice things like age or race I'm only 33 years old and white. 

For the past months I've been wondering what went wrong. The easiest answer is bad things just happen. Though it's true that bad things happen my gut said there might be more to the story. I've never been a drinker, smoker or drug user and whether I did or not, it seemed like I ate healthier than the average person. In short, I believe that my diet wasn't helping me.

With all the medical tests I got, one of the things found out was that I was getting adult-onset diabetes (Type 2). That's news worthy in itself, but I never brought it up because it pails in comparison to cancer and there was no need to worry more people (Mom and Dad). I already have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and hypothyroidism for people to worry about (Mom and Dad). 

Instinctually after THE CALL I cut back on junk food and within a month I lost a few pounds. Then I saw a nutritionalist and adjusted what I ate some more and lost a few more pounds. 

Type 2 Diabetes is usually for 45 years and older. If your reading comprehension is low or memory is short: I'M ONLY 33 YEARS OLD! 

I have only one body and this one body I have needs to take care of the only family I have. There's plenty of theories of why people get cancer, but Type 2 diabetes is due to a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors. I can't change my genetics, but I can change what goes in my pie hole. Dieting has never worked for me, hence getting adult-onset diabetes at 33, so I have made a switch to less processed foods, more raw and organic - that's it.

My 30 pound weight loss is from my change of diet, not from getting cancer. I have only lost my lunch once during the radiation and that was about 4 weeks ago. 

Food is just one thing that has changed since THE CALL. My value system has been refined some and I truly look at the world differently. I have questioned and reevaluated every aspect I am aware of about my life, from my address, faith, family, friends, entertainment, money, education, the roles I have in peoples lives and theirs in my own life. Simply, how I think just is not the same. Thank goodness. There are certainly things I have changed and things that I am improving.

After today's appointment we went to a beach, I sat down and Myrtle walked everywhere. She picked up rocks, a small dead crab and dried seaweed. The scenery was picture perfect and the weather even better.  These are the moments I am living for.
Myrtle, first day of summer 2011
Today is the first day of summer and tomorrow is my last radiation appointment. This to me is an end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one and I want my life to reflect that. As of now I'm not interested in writing about my tumor, no matter how hip it is. My head is no longer spinning, I don't quite feel so confused or like my life is up in the air. In fact I feel more grounded now than I did pre-diagnosis. 

There are boundless things I want to write and talk about, but I will keep that between my journal, family and maybe friends.

For the record I know that prayer has worked miracles in more ways then I can express. Thank you for those that have prayed on my and my family's behalf. In return I have prayed every single day for those that are praying for me, that their burdens may be lifted and know that they are loved. Still, I don't understand the mechanics of prayer, meaning how it works, just that praying has helped my family and I. Thank you Mom for teaching me how to pray.

Thank you for reading, thank you for caring. For old times sake perhaps one more prayer for Myrtle's dad.

Lots of love, 


Feel free to email me rebalkin@gmail.com


  1. Ruban I have always liked you, and thought of you as a really interesting and thoughtful person. It sounds like this experience has made you even more so. You have carried yourself gracefully through it and so generously shared with all of us and I so admire you for that. I am so happy for you that it is winding down and that you have gleaned so much good from it. You have also inspired us to take better care of ourselves, to eat better and treasure the bodies that carry us through this life. Thank you and God bless you and your family! (oh and Ezra still prayes that your 'tubor will shrink, not expand, and disappear' what should I tell him to pray for now? :) Love to Faith and Myrtle!

  2. Thank you for sharing your journey Ruban. I have appreciated your experiences and words along the way. We love you guys!

    ps. Renae wants to hang out with Myrtle soon so she can figure out this thing called "walking" :)

  3. Hooray for new chapters! Thank you for taking the time to share this - and the emotional involvment it required.
    Enjoy the Summer with that darling Mytle and wonderful Faith! We Love you all :}

  4. There is something celebratory about the first day of summer! It seems a fitting way to mark the close of this significant chapter as you open yourself up to 'something' new!! Love Myrtle's curious expression - she seems to have captured the essence of this pivotal moment! Thank you for sharing your heartfelt insights these past few months via the "It's a Hip Tumor" Blog - your words and the thoughtful, kindess of many to you and your wonderful family, have brought us immense appreciation for the simple wonders and joy of life! Thank you and thank you to the 'many'.

    Love you,
    Mom & Dad

  5. When one door closes - another one opens and I'm so thankful that my front door opened to greet you and your lovely family last week! I feel a new journey beginning for you. I feel health, vibrance, a radiant "glow" and a deep knowing that YOU are in complete control of the state of your body. Let the journey begin my friend. Hope you don't mind if I tag along for part of this next chapter. I might be able to offer a few pearls of wisdom & save you some time!

    Love to you, Faith & Myrtle

  6. Don't tell anyone I said this, but yours has been my favourite blog for the last few months. I hope your next venture is just as engaging, though I doubt it will make me cry as much. Thank you so much for sharing this experience, Ruban. Happy Summer to you, Faith and lil' Myrtle!

  7. Ruban! YOU are incredible! Thank you so much for being such a positive example to me and all of your readers. What a journey you have been on, what a journey our family has been on, and what a journey we have been on and there is no one more who I would rather be on this journey of life with than you.

    Congratulations on showing that kiwi who's boss! Let the healing begin!

  8. Hello,
    I have a question about your blog. Please email me!