Frank Bonnevie Jr. taught martial arts and was in great shape when he started having constipation and diarrhea. His dad had seen Katie Couric’s colonoscopy on the Today show and encouraged Frank to go to a doctor.
After a sigmoidoscopy and a CT scan, Frank was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. He was scared, but during chemotherapy he continued to do Chi Kung for his mind and body. When he felt too sick to move, he imagined himself doing the Chinese exercises.
Frank had a recurrence, but refused to quit. He had surgery to remove two-thirds of his liver and has been a stage IV survivor for more than ten years. He hopes his story gives courage to others so they will never give up.
Eight years and 75 Days I’m Still Here.
Who would’ve thought that a 5th Degree Master Black-Belt in Shaolin Kempo Karate, with over thirty years of Martial Arts training, and in excellent shape “for the shape he was in”, would be diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer on his 46th birthday? Believe it or not, that was me on July 19th, 2000, and I am still here!!!
In my writing, I tried to be as factual as I could. However, I might have stretched a few story lines a little. I never let the truth, the facts, some fiction, or a little bit of humor get in the way of telling a good story.
On August 7th, 1999 I married Marjorie Shulman. This story is a true story. We planned on honeymooning in France. (If you ever get a chance to go to Paris in April you must go.) When I think back, it was about two weeks before our honeymoon that I had a change in my bowels. On our honeymoon, I spent a lot of time looking for bathrooms. When we returned home, Marjorie, my sister, Lynn (“Crisco”), my Mom, Dad, and I discussed what I should do.
I knew my bowels had changed, and that was my concern. After discussing this change with my primary physician, Dr. Robert Taylor, he arranged for a referral for a sigmoidoscopy. Dr. Taylor is an awesome doctor. If he thought this was what I needed, then I was going to have one, whatever a sigmoidoscopy was.
Friday, July 14th, 2000 was my sigmoidoscopy. I was awake, watching the television screen with Dr. Demarco. We both saw the growth on the lining of my rectum. It looked like I fell down playing basketball and skinned my elbow. I remember commenting to my doctor saying, “That should not be there, should it?” He said, “No,” and took five biopsies. I was told in a day or so I would get a call with the diagnosis.
On Wednesday, July 19th, 2000, I was at work in my Fred Villari’s Karate School teaching a karate class when I got the telephone call. This was also my 46th birthday. Happy Birthday, Frank! The call was from Doctor Robert Fanelli saying I had a good-sized malignant mass. What happened to Dr. Demarco? I knew what malignant meant, but I had to ask the doctor if it was cancer. I was hoping the next time I heard it, it would be different, not cancer. The doctor responded with. “Yes indeed Frank, you have cancer.”
Dr. Fanelli wanted me in the hospital the next day for chest X-rays, followed by a complete colonoscopy. As an added bonus, I was to have some kind of blood work. He told me that he would like to do surgery the following Wednesday, followed by chemotherapy and radiation. I felt overwhelmed, like I had a week to live or die.
For over 30 years I had been studying Shaolin Kempo Karate, Kung Fu, and T’ai Chi, with Grand Master Frederick J Villari and a great bunch of Master Instructors at the Fred Villari’s Karate Schools. I exercised for a living. Even the common cold couldn’t catch me. I think the last time I had the flu was in 1969, my freshman year in high school. How could I get cancer?
Our son, David (who is now a physician), was working at Children’s Hospital, in Boston with Dr. Leonard Zon in his Zebra Fish Lab. They were, and still are, trying to find a cure for cancer. Sometime after I was diagnosed, Marjorie called our son, David, asking for some guidance. David immediately called over his boss to talk to Marjorie and me on the phone.
Dr. James Amatruda introduced himself, and after speaking to Marjorie for a while, he spoke to me. Dr. Amatruda spoke in a quiet relaxed manner. I remember one of the first things he said to me was, “No one should ever have to go through this”. The calm in his voice is what I needed to hear. Dr. Amatruda said the growth had probably been there for a while and a week or two wouldn’t make any difference. Every test Dr. Fanelli wanted, they would also need in Boston, and I could get them done in Pittsfield, if I felt up to it.
I have been asked many times what did I do to survive my cancer. All I did was find a doctor I trusted and a treatment plan I believed in. After that, it was out of my hands. I let it go and relaxed. I believed that today was not going to be my day to worry. It’s the doctor’s job to find a cure. All I had to do was show up for any treatments he or she wanted me to have. I did a few Chi Kungs and Wu Chis and I knew I’d be fine.
On August 18th, 2000, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, I started radiation treatments. Every morning, Monday to Friday for five weeks in a row, I received a radiation treatment.
In a building next to Brigham and Women’s is the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I’m starting my chemotherapy treatments and I’m introduced to my infusion nurse, Elizabeth Cooley. You wouldn’t believe what I found, Chocolates! It seemed they were everywhere. I think I ate two or three. All right, I ate 20 or 30 chocolates. Beth is hooking me up to a battery pack for the next 28 days. Every 15 minutes I received a 1 to 2 second injection of Chemotherapy. The battery pack hung around my neck with chemotherapy in it for the next month.
I live in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, and we have an awesome apple orchard in Richmond named Bartlett’s. I stopped by and picked three bushels of apples. When I was ready to pay for the apples I told Cindy and Ron Bartlett how I was going to give the apples to every doctor at Dana Farber. Cindy and Ron gave me the apples and every year they now donate Apples. At my next visit to Dana-Farber, I did give everyone with a white doctor’s coat on, a polished apple. This seems like a small price to pay for saving my life. Every person smiled and thanked me for the apples. Maybe they were all sick of eating chocolates. I know I was.
As I was passing out apples, two “little kids” came up to me with a white doctor’s jacket on. I thought all right “two kids” got a free apple from me. This was no big deal, as I had three bushels to pass out. A short while later it was time for my consult with my surgeon, Dr. Stanley W. Ashley. You would not believe who came in with him. Remember the “two little kids” that just got a free apple from me. They were going to assist Dr. Ashley with my surgery. Now I’m feeling sooooooo old.
Dr. Ashley tried to draw a sketch of a colon and how my cancer formed around it. I realized this man will never be an artist, but his compassion made me feel as though I had nothing to worry about. When he drew a sketch of my liver, I knew he better not give up his day job. He needed art lessons in a bad way. It was a good thing he was not an artist, or he would be a starving artist.
Nine months before I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, our family planned a trip to Jamaica. When my initial 28 days of radiation and chemotherapy treatments ended, our trip to Jamaica was seven weeks away. My doctor wanted me to have surgery in six weeks. I said to Dr. Ashley I would recover on a beach in Jamaica. Dr. Ashley told me to wait and have the surgery when I came back.
Marjorie and I went to Jamaica with the whole family and I rested before my surgery. We were celebrating Marjorie’s mom’s 80th birthday. Little did we know she would die from colon cancer five years later.
While Marjorie and I were in Jamaica, we did a little sailing on a small 35 foot racing boat in Jamaica. If I remember correctly, the two of us won this race.
Shortly after I came home from Jamaica on November 9th, 2000, I had my first surgery. When I awoke, I was in the recovery room. The first thing I remember was saying to myself, “I am alive, I didn’t die, and I made it.” The Grim Reaper tried his best and I kicked his butt! Then I saw Marjorie.
She will never know the relief I felt seeing her. One by one all my children came in to see me. David worked right around the corner in a Children’s Hospital lab, and I saw David almost every day. Jamie was at Union College in New York State. I do not know how she found the time to visit with school being so far away, but she did. Erika and Brett came in on a day when I was over-drugged. I remember seeing them, but I felt like my brain couldn’t connect with my mouth. When I tried to talk, my mouth felt like it was full of peanut-butter. I wonder what I said to them. When Jesse came in, he was so small I could barely see his head as he stood at the end of the bed.
Dr. Ashley was right to make me wait for the surgery. There would have been no way I could have gone to Jamaica to recover. I knew Dr. Ashley liked to downhill ski, and there were no ski slopes in Jamaica. So how did he know so much about Jamaican hospitals? I think I remember something about a Jamaican Olympic Downhill Bobsled team. Maybe Dr. Ashley was working with the Jamaican Bob Sled team as the team physician.
A few days after my surgery, Dr. Ashley came in to check on me. As I looked at Dr. Ashley standing at the foot of my bed, I realized he was a big man. I don’t mean he is a 350 pound doctor. He appeared to be in excellent shape. He was well over six feet tall, and his hands were sooooo large he could palm a basketball. Really, I bet he could grab a basketball like you or I would grab a baseball. No wonder my stomach hurt sooooo much! Can you imagine the size of the hole he had to put in my belly just to reach his huge hands in?
Why couldn’t I have a midget for a doctor? A midget could stand on a milk crate to reach the top of the operating table. A midget would have little midget hands, making little midget holes, with little midget scalpels. I think next time I will put in a request for the little midget doctor.
November 19th, 2000, I finally got to leave Brigham and Women’s Hospital and go home. I had a beautiful ileostomy bag. The bag was just above the belt in my pants. I had to keep my shirt untucked to hide the bag. My favorite sister, Crisco, called me “bag-boy” and it stuck. Thanks, Crisco, I mean, Lynn.
While I was in Brigham and Women’s Hospital, all I was allowed to eat was green Jell-O and beef broth for ten days. I was looking forward to eating a good solid meal or two. (And I’m not talking about a tofu dinner either. I’m talking about a prime rib of beef dinner with real vegetables and a potato or two).
Being involved in the Martial Arts for over 30 years, I have had the opportunity to try many traditional Chinese dishes. One of my favorite foods is a prime rib of beef from an area in China called Tibet. The Sacred Golden Yellow Yak is really not just some common cow from the Himalayan Mountains. This animal has the best marbling in its meat of any cow. The meat is so tender you can cut any steak or roast with a butter knife. And this is not just my opinion. Try the yak and you will join me as a Yak fan.
In Japan there is a region called Kobe. The cattle raised in this region called Kobe Beef. Many people think this is the best meat in the entire world. I’ve tried the Kobe cow and I think it is just tremendously overpriced and sub-par in flavor. I can buy a Yak with four bones in a standing prime rib, 7 to 8 pounds for only $245.00. A Kobe two-bone standing prime rib cost $249.99, half the meat and twice the price. You have to sit down with a glass of fine red wine to compare Yak versus Kobe, fairly. I know it is just my opinion, but once you’ve tried a yak prime rib you will never go Kobe again. The Tibetans call this piece of the yak the “Knighted Sir Loin of Yak.”
I want to get this right. If we free Tibet, is the Tibetan Yak also free? And if so, why can’t I eat the free prime rib of beef from the Sacred Golden Yellow Yak all the time?
If you have never eaten a Prime Rib from a Sacred Golden Yellow Yak, you do not know what you are missing. Go on the internet and type in Yak Prime Rib. You will find dozens of websites to buy your Yak Prime Rib. After decades of studying the Martial Arts, I just happen to have a secret connection with some Traditional Shaolin Monks living underground in Tibet. You’ll have to read my book to find out why they are living underground. I just have to finish writing my book. Anyway, I can have some of the juiciest, meatiest, most tender, “melt in your mouth” cuts of the Sacred Golden Yellow Yak’s Prime Rib sent to me in one day or less. How, you may ask? The Yak is packed in dry ice and shipped next day air mail, of course.
Now don’t cheap out and buy the first yak you find on the internet. You can find many colors of yaks. The common Brown and Black Yak is everywhere and is very inexpensive. If the Tibetans had a Mc Donalds, they would serve a Brown or Black Yak Hamburger.
The Royal Yak is a white and brown or black colored yak. The Royal Yak cost a little more money than its cousins the Brown and Black Yaks, and is a little harder to find. The Royal Yak can be found in the better neighborhood grocery store. The Royal Yak is a little less common than its cousin the Brown and Black Yak, making some people think it’s more flavorful and tender than its cousin, the common Brown and Black Yak. To my knowledge and palate, there is no difference, in the taste or tenderness of the meat for any of the different colored Yaks. Some color snobs believe the myth that the less common a yak is the better marbling the yak meat will be.
The Sacred Golden Yellow Yak would be all white in color. If you have the time to spend, this will be time well spent, look for the Sacred Golden Yellow Yak. And yes, I’m one of those color snobs that think, the less common a yak is, the better marbling the yak will be. In my mind, the Sacred Golden Yellow Yak is the most mouth watering of all the yaks and the rarest of the entire yak herd. This yak is found only in the finest restaurants, like in New York’s Peter Lugar’s Steak House, and only in upscale specialty meat markets, like Del Yaks in Montrose, Colorado
This cancer has slowed me down a little and it has been a long time since I have been to Tibet studying the ways of the Shaolin. The legend told to me was that a very unscrupulous yak herder draped the hides of a black yak over the bodies of a pair of Sacred Golden Yellow Yaks. He then proceeded to just walk the pair of Sacred Golden Yellow Yaks out of Tibet. Now you know the rest of the story.
If all the Yaks are traditionally from a region of the Himalayan Mountains known as Tibet, and I am buying my Yak Prime Rib with a Colorado connection, would my Yak Prime Rib really be a Sacred Golden Yellow Yak Cow from the Himalayan Mountains in Tibet, not China? Am I buying a Tibetan Yak? Or an American Yak? Or a Colorado American Tibetan Yak? Or am I just yakking too much?
These are the animals that will portage you and all your worldly needs up to the 14,000 foot Plateau of Tibet. Each Yak can carry 300 to 400 pounds of your belongings, so you can spend years studying with Shaolin Monks while in hiding at one of the secret Shaolin Temples in Tibet. Sign up today as space is limited.
December 2nd, 2000 everyone believed I was back to good health. A good friend of mine, Eric Hanson, asked me if I wanted to participate in a one-day Boy Scout training class. The guys were fun, and at the end of the day I graduated with an Associates Degree of Commissioner of Science in the Boy Scouts of America. By the time I was finished with all my cancer treatments, I had become a Doctor of Commissioner of Science. Now why can’t I write prescriptions for my own happy drugs? A doctor is a doctor.
I should not forget, before I was finished with all my treatments my son Frank Elzeard Bonnevie III achieved his rank of Eagle Scout. I have to thank Donald Gilbert, head scout master, for Troup 20 of the Boy Scouts of America for being there for my son when I was too sick to be there.
One month after my colorectal surgery, on December 5th, 2000, I started chemotherapy again. The previously last six weeks of chemotherapy were easy, and I had had chemotherapy 24 hours a day for six weeks in a row. This was only once a week for six weeks, and then I had two weeks with no chemotherapy. When I drove into Boston, I believed I was going to have an easy time with all the chemotherapy treatments. Boy was I naive!
At Dana Farber, I had an appointment on the tenth floor for some bloodletting. As the elevator doors opened up, I always had a sense of apprehension with the up and coming leeches being placed all over my body. I can still remember the smell of the sterilized atmosphere. It wasn’t until I heard the voice of my private nurse, Elizabeth Vader Cooley (I guess I’m stuck with her,) that I felt that I had arrived – and despair crept into every corner of my warped little mind.
Beth started the bloodletting by removing a gallon or two of my blood for the lab. Before I could receive my chemotherapy treatment, someone in the laboratory had the privilege of inspecting, detecting and rejecting my blood. One time the back door to the laboratory at Dana-Farber was not closed tightly. As I walked closer, I heard the doctors and diagnostic technicians talking. “Igor, put the electrodes into the gallon of Frank’s blood” “Yes, Master” “Now turn up the electricity” “Yes Master”. “Igor is the blood boiling, yet?” “Not yet, Master.” It’s good to know everyone was working together so well at Dana-Farber.
After a while, Dr. Shivdasani, my oncologist, always strolled out of the back room and told me if my blood was boiling or not. When my blood was boiling, and there were no more brain cells left to be found, we knew the entire spectrum of tests were done. Then I got to see Beth for another flushing and a new injection of 5-FU, with a new drug added in called Leukovorin.
Beth had mastered the art of bait and switch and I’m not talking about fishing here. Beth would prepare to stab me with her steely knives. Then she would turn around and talk to my wife, Marjorie, as if she were ignoring me. When I looked in Beth’s right hand I could clearly see a jar of blue power bait. The same blue power bait I use when I’m fishing at Laurel Lake in Lee, Massachusetts. Maybe she is clearly fishing.
Hello Beth, look at me here. I’m the poor sucker with cancer. Remember me? I’m Frank Elzeard Bonnevie, Junior. What am I? Chopped liver! Pay attention to what you’re doing to me.
Beth would say something like, “Marjorie, I like your earrings. Frank, did you buy them for her?” As I would turn to look at Marjorie’s earrings, that’s when Beth would stab me with one of her steely knives. When I turned back to look at my chest, she would be all done taping the line down, and I never felt anything. Another good stick by Elizabeth Cooley. “You can stab me with your steely knives, but you just can’t kill the beast.” I’m thinking I heard that last line somewhere in a song. Now Beth, don’t let this one good stab go to your head. And isn’t that the blue power bait I use when I’m fishing? Beth would always say something like “Yes, Frank, I’m using the blue power bait today. Now sit still, until I have my hook baited.”
For the remainder of my life, I will never forget that Cooley chick and her Darth Vader’s sister laugh. I don’t think she had to work on that laugh at all. Every time I heard it, I knew I was going to get it, and I don’t mean just my infusion of chemotherapy. Beth could have been one of the Storm Troopers for the Dark Side. It was a good thing for me that I was writing my autobiography after I finished with all her treatments – or she might really have hurt me with her Dark Side.
Here comes Dr. Shivdasani. He could have been Yoda from the movie Star Wars, and not because he was green or walked around with a light saber. I don’t think he could fly around fighting like Yoda could either, but that would really have been wicked cool if he could. Maybe he couldn’t right all the wrongs of the oppressed, but I think he truly did care, as Yoda did.
I’m sorry to say I do believe Dr. Shivdasani was following a fake Jedi Master. Yes, you read that right. Yoda is really a fake Jedi Master. Now Dr. Shivdasani, I know you are the best chemotherapy oncologist in the entire world. I really do not want to upset you, but I may know a little bit more about being a Master than you might. You should listen to me on this one. Yoda is trying to pull the little Green Jedi Master Man wool, over your eyes.
To be considered a True Jedi Master, you have to be a Fifth Degree Black Belt or higher. I am a Fifth Degree Master Black Belt, in Shaolin Kempo Karate, spelled Godan. The “Go” is for Fifth Degree, and the “Dan” is the designation for black belt. I think the Godan designation should break down to God (G O D) for fifth degree and the (an) can be the designation for all the rest of the little people in the world! This would really make me a truly worldly God, at least in my own mind. But don’t worry; I won’t make any of you bow down to me. And please don’t tell my wife, Marjorie, I wrote that last little paragraph, she already thinks I’m nuts, and far from humble.
In Shaolin Kempo Karate, if you break down Yoda’s name, we don’t even get a full Yodan, (which is the designated rank for Fourth Degree Black Belt). Yoda’s name is spelled “Yo” as in Fourth Degree, but the “da” is not even a full “Dan.” Think of it – he’s just a daaaaaaaâ€¦â€¦. not even making him a full Dan, Yoda is a fake Fourth Degree in nothing. He’s become a Master of Deception; Yoda’s not even a Jedi Master of his own domain.
Most people come to the Martial Arts to experience the Arts, instead of letting the Martial Arts become what they experience. Mark Grupposo is a Ninth Degree Master Black Belt in Shaolin Kempo Karate, spelled Kudan. “Ku”, is ninth degree, and the dan is still the designation for Black Belt. This means Master Grupposo has nine stripes on his black belt. Like the Zebra, that many stripes can be a little dizzying. Unlike the Zebra, Master Grupposo has no need to blend into the herd. This one time on National Geographicâ€¦ arr, rrrâ€¦. Wait a minute. Where was I? Oh, yes I was just remembering it was Master Mark Grupposo who once told me that little phrase about experiencing the Martial Arts. This little phrase is all about you, Yoda.
Anyway, back to my fantasy Brothers Grimm fairy-tale-like story. As hard as Yoda tries, he is still looking for the enlightened experience of being a True Master. Master Grupposo was right. Yoda, like most people, is missing the true nature of the Martial Arts experience.
My apologies to you Dr. Shivdasani, but I know the path you and Yoda both choose will only confuse you both in your quest to balance your body, mind, and spirit (emotions) to help promote the good health, longer life, peace of mind, and the clearer thinking you both desire. It was the Yellow Emperor that achieved the enlightenment experience first, way back in 2783 B. C. (not Yoda). Dr. Shivdasani, if you seek out Yoda’s philosophies, it will elude you, too. Maybe being a true Master, I can guide you to the enlightenment you desire, but first you must relax in order to start to achieve the real Jedi experience you both are longing for.
Fake Master Yoda, the pretend Dr. Jedi Knight Shivdasani, and I (Master Frank Elzeard Bonnevie, Junior) still have much to learn from Ninth Degree Master Black Belt, Mark Grupposo. I must receive more training, and you, Dr. Jedi Shivdasani, should join me.
Back to my blood drawâ€¦â€¦ I knew Beth Cooley cared too; maybe she could be Princess Leila. I don’t want her to think I care less about her than Dr. Shivdasani, or she might fill my chemotherapy pack with Draino. Every time I see Dr. Shivdasani, he is looking at a computer screen to see if my blood has been scrutinized by the laboratory in the back room. He has a great job. Beth does all the dirty work stabbing people with her steely knives. The laboratory boils my blood, looking for any missing brain cells. All Dr. Shivdasani does is stroll in and talks as if he’s already Fifth Degree Master Jedi Knight. “Frank, looks good,,,, your blood does. See you next week,,,, I will” and Shivdasani gets all the applause.
I think we all have had that special nurse that gives you a big hug when you first walked into the room looking like you already had your chemotherapy treatment, or that exceptional nurse that dried your tears when you felt like you just wanted to stop and go home. Sometimes, just taking the time to hold your hand and a kind word would be such a big deal.
I happen to have a nurse from Hell as my special nurse. Really, my private infusion nurse was a She Devil. I know what you’re thinking. And I know that Cooley girl was and still is a devil in disguise. She was always chasing me with one of her pitch forks. No one knew what evil lurked in the deep dark creases of her mind. Or was it my mind? I could have been chasing the demon in my own head, but that would be another long story. As a matter of fact, that might have been too long a story. But here is my demon story anyway.
I always had the belief that the Devil had a red face, and two red horns coming out of the top of his or her head. There might also have been a long red tail. Also, didn’t the Devil have to live underground in a fire pit or something like that? Come to think of it, Beth did come at me several times in the past with her big long pitch forks. At least to me, her needles looked as big as a long pitch fork.
As I looked at Elizabeth Cooley, I couldn’t see her red face, and her red horns didn’t show either. What about her red tail? And why wasn’t Elizabeth below the ground in the molten red hot belly of the earth?
I knew with the makeup of today, Beth could hide her red face with a shade or two of Cover Girl makeup. Beth’s long hair could easily cover up her long red horns. Everyone working at Dana-Farber always had a long white jacket on. I bet if you looked under Beth’s jacket, you would see her long red tail.
As I think about the idea of being underground in a fire pit of some sorts, I remember one of the parking garages being 5, 6, or even 7 floors underground. This could have been the portal for all the Dana-Farber Devils, including Beth, to escape from the fire down below.
What about the top Devil Dog Ramesh Shivdasani, my chemotherapy oncologist? He seemed so clean cut. How did he hide his horns? I know everyone working at Dana-Farber can’t fool me for long. I’ll have to think!
I bet Dr. Shivdasani is friends with David Copperfield or Chris Angel. One of the two magicians could have been working with Ramesh, hiding his red face, red horns, and red tail. I think Ramesh is all smoke and mirrors. I bet if I went and gave Dr. Shivdasani a pat on top of his head, I would have stabbed my hand in one of his razor sharp red horns. That’s it! I figured it out. David Copperfield or Chris Angel had hidden his horns with a cheap magic trick. That cheap red leather belt around his waist was really his red tail.
I knew there always was something different about Elizabeth Cooley and Dr. Shivdasani from the start, and I’ve figured it out. I know now. Elizabeth and Ramesh were working with the Devil himself, injecting me with Devil’s fruit. Or maybe I was and still am just a fruit cake. A friend of mine, Susan Gail Robinson, made an image of Beth looking as she does when she was giving me a shot. You should see Beth with her pitch fork.
I had to have a check-up every week, and I can’t think of enough insulting material to write about Elizabeth Cooley and Dr. Shivdasani on a weekly basis. You can use your imagination and think about what you would say if you were in my shoes. Just keep your thoughts as distorted and disturbing as mine. But wait! Here is an idea for a short story. I know I have to see Beth again. Maybe I can hang one silver cross, a silver bullet and silver arrow all blessed by a priest (and as an extra measure of safety, maybe just a little bit of garlic) around my neck. Then maybe, just maybe, after she sucks out all my blood, (if I’m lucky) that blood sucking vampire, Cooley, will replace my blood with beer.
I hope it not a cheap beer either. I would like a rich thick Chocolate Bock Beer. Yes, you read that rightâ€¦ a Chocolate Bock Beer. It’s just like a mug of ice cold chocolate milk, only it’s a beer. And I want it out of a keg, not some dinky little bottle. I know what you’re thinkingâ€¦ chocolate in a beer. Trust me; you have to travel far and wide to find a good beer joint that serves a Chocolate Bock Beer out of a keg, like Moe’s Tavern in Lee, Massachusetts. You will also be surprised when the bartender brings you over a fork to help you drink or eat your beer. Chocolate Bock Beer is so thick and creamy it’s like drinking a chocolate milk shake from Mc Donald’s. There’s really no chocolate in the beer at all; it’s all in the way the ingredients are brewed, making the beer taste like heavenly chocolate.
Now, back to my check-upâ€¦ I wonder did I just give five gallons of blood to Beth. I’m wondering what Marjorie and I can do for the next couple of hours until the lab has finished looking for lost brain cells in my blood. I wonder why it takes so long to see what’s in my blood, anyway. I wonder why the door is always closed to the back room. I wonder why I clearly hear them talking in the shadows of my mind. And sometimes I wonder why that Frisbee is getting bigger, and then it hits me.
According to one of my students, Adam, why is it when I hear voices in my head, it was called schizophrenia, and when the Pope hears voices in his head, it’s called a miracle?
I knew Dr Shivdasani would like to be considered Obi -Wan Kenobi, not the Little Green Jedi Man, Yoda, as I referred to him earlier. Maybe I could get him a brown or tan robe like Obi – Wan. One of my kids in my karate school could lend me one of their light sabers for the amazing Dr. Shiv – Obi – Wan – Dasani – Kenobi Show.
Sometimes after chemotherapy treatments I went to my karate school. I found I could not work out myself, and teaching was almost impossible, as I could hardly stand, but I did show up and sit in the office. I did some of the office work, talked to everyone, and told them I felt fine. I wonder if I fooled anyone. I think not!
There is really nothing funny about cancer. The way I dealt with all my cancer treatments was to inject some humor into all my treatments. I found it hard to cry when I was laughing. Try it. Kick yourself, or if you’re not a Master Black Belt such as I am, have someone kick you in the stomach and laugh. It will not hurt! As long as you’re laughing, really, try it.
I did not know what stage of cancer I had had until I was asked to be in this calendar. When I called my doctor, he told me I had Stage IV cancer. I was relieved to know that I never knew what stage I had.
I have to thank my charming wife Marjorie for walking down this road with me over the last eight years and 75 days. We did not always know where we were going, and where it might end, but every step of the way she was there, and she is still strolling along with me on this journey. I love you sooooo much, Marjorie.
During all my chemotherapy treatments, I would practice my healing Chi Kung exercises every time I felt unbalanced or overwhelmed by the events of the day. I have to thank Fred Villari and all his Master Instructors: Fritz, Grupposo, Shirley, Leggeri, Mangone, and many more for training me in the healing ways of the Chinese. Also thank you Lisa, Erik, Shawn, Kent, Benjamin, Adam, Stephanie, John, and all my students that helped me keep my Karate school open.
I would like to personally thank the following people:
Dr. Robert Taylor. Your quick response with my bowel problem saved my life as much as the surgery and chemotherapy.
Dr Demarco. When you did my sigmoidoscopy and removed the five cancer biopsies, this was the start of saving my life.
Dr. Robert Fanelli. I know you would have liked to have performed my cancer surgeries. However years ago, I lived in Boston, and when you told me I had cancer, I knew where I was going for treatment. In the last eight years, you have done all my colonoscopies. Every time I went into your office I always felt at ease. You and your office staff have gone beyond just a doctor / patient relationship. Thank you.
Dr. James Armatruda. Your compassion over the phone, and your calming approach with cancer, was what I needed to hear.
Dr. Ramesh A. Shivdasani. Without your caring approach with chemotherapy, I might not be here today.
Dr. Stanley W. Ashley. I can’t thank you enough for my colorectal and liver surgeries. I owe my life to you, also.
Elizabeth Cooley, my infusion nurse. I never told you this, but no matter how sick I felt, when I heard your voice and saw your smiling face, you brought a smile to my face. And I said to myself, “I can do one more week”. Thank you, Beth.
Thank you to my favorite sister-in-law, Nancy, for turning my name into the Colondar.
I would like to give a special thanks to Molly McMaster and everyone working so hard to put this colander together. Writing this WAY TOO LONG short story was an emotional part in my healing process, as important as the physical healing of my surgeries. Thank you for inspiring me to write about my time with cancer. Look out for my book entitled Eight Years 75 Days and I’m Still Here. My Time With Cancer, by Frank Elzeard Bonnevie Junior, Just don’t hold your breath for my book. As they say in my business, Kung Fu means time and energy. All my words of wit will take more Kung Fu, or time and energy, to put into writing.
And thank you, the reader. In the end, you get to decide which stories are real, fiction, a stretch, or just a total illusion in my mind.
Frank would like to thank all of his family and friends for their support:
Kermit Goodman, Catherine Maher & Kimberly Slaving, John & Sieglinde Ostermann, Elizabeth Azar, Mary Glendon & Boudhayan Sen, Jacqueline Browner & James Johnson, Dorothy J. Mack, James & Lynn Conant, Tiger Crane Eneterprises, INC. DBA Vallari’s Martial Arts, Shrewsbury Martial Arts DBA Villaris Martial Arts Centers, John D. Wallace DBA Villari’s Self Defense LLC, Villari’s Of Natick, Kick a Thon Anonymous Donations, Holliston Villaris, Gregory & Debra Tait, Marc & Joyce Abecassis, Marjorie Shulman, Francis J. Hewitt, John & Linda Franchebois, Shawn A Armacost, Amarilys Trinidad, Williams/Kingsley Auto Repair, INC., Dental Care Associates, LLC, Dr. Edwin J Helitzer, Ben J Kaplan, Marketing Services, Gail M. Drysdale, Cecil M. Goldstein, Stefanie & Robert Kyte, Linda Bonnevie, Shanna Curley-Graham, Paula Harrison, Rebecca Slick, Carole A Rothstein, Sherri L Osterhout, Cynthia & Thomas Zanconato, Donald Gilbert, Nancy Beja, Mira L. W. Masroianni, Lawrence & Sarah Klein, Christina Canty, William & Nancy Peterson, Maine Martial Arts Academy Inc. DBA Villaris Self Defense, Bruce A Bonnevie, Alan Schiff & Judy Stavisky, N.J. and P.A Trowill, James & Jacqueline Shulman, Cecily Levine, Judith Wildman & Kenneth S. Bannerman, M.D., Kent Rancourt, April Discoe-Keough & Bruce Keough, Michael P Giambro, Marsha T Shulman, Lawrence & Carol Shapiro, Richard &Susan Lombardi, Hilary & Brian Griffith, Irving Shulman, Amy Levine, Harriett Levy, Larayne Birk, Rev. Nancy L Milne ADL, Ramesh Shivdasani, Roger & Ellen Whitmer, David & Jeanne Friswell, Milton Leeman, Mr. & Mrs. Lawrence Rothbaum, Brand Keys Inc., Fred Villari’s of Pittsfield, Rubert Holmes, Jerry & Emily Schmetterer, Harold & Barbara Brown, Villaris Self Defense Center Graham Norton, Joseph DeBlasio, Michael P McCarthy, Terence & Janet Kinsey, Rhoda & william Gilbert, W T Parsons, Andrew & Maureen Silfer, A. Bonnevie, Jr., J. Douglas Madeley, William & Elaine Ruben, Linda Green-Zayka, Stan & Alison Bennett, C.Warren & Bette Forbes, Barbara Heffron, Diane LeMay, James Overmyer & Ellen Weiden, Carolyn Zayka, and Amy Herman.