I licked the “Little C”

I love to talk about perspective and context. It’s easy to whine about my situation.  By seeing everything in context and perspective, I can see how small it is, especially compared to far more challenging situations that other people face.

I remember distinctly John Wayne’s bravura when discussing publicly his battle with lung cancer.  “I licked the Big C,” he declared, regarding his lung cancer surgery in 1964.  This Hollywood tough guy wouldn’t bow down to this invisible enemy.  Although he beat the “Big C” in battle, eventually he lost the war.

Today I learned definitively that my “highly suspicious” nodule was, indeed, cancerous.  I wasn’t really surprised, though I was hoping to have this suspicious nodule cleared of all charges, so to speak.   The good news is that this was also contained to the nodule.  There was no other involvement, and the area was so small that the surgeon said it’s questionable that I would even need the next step of radioactive iodine treatment.

So, I licked the “Little C” — a mere bagatelle (or “bag of shells,” as Ralph Kramden would say) in the scheme of things.  I’m feeling pretty lucky today!   I should stand in front of a microphone at Yankee Stadium and do my Lou Gehrig impression.  Actually, now seems like a good as time as ever to give an instant replay of that most famous, humbling and inspiring speech, which took place 70 years ago this month:

Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies – that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter – that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body – it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed – that’s the finest I know.

So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.

— Lou Gehrig
July 4, 1939

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