Steve Gets Cancer… by Steve Safran

Britt’s blog gave me cancer. OK, maybe it didn’t– the science is still out on the matter. But the facts are this: I am now being treated for Stage 2C Testicular Cancer. I’m not acutely familiar with the shades of the term “irony,” but surely this is somewhere in the vicinity.

Testicular cancer is “a young man’s disease,” and for this, I am repeatedly told, I should be grateful. It is nearly 100% curable. “If you had to pick a cancer, this is the one to get,” an oncologist told me. That’s fine and all, but that’s like saying “If you had to be sat on by an elephant, you picked a nice, small elephant. Look – he balances a ball on his trunk!”

There is one question everyone wants the answer to when surgeons are removing your testicle, so I will answer it right now:

They do not replace your testicle with an artificial one.

I have been getting treatment for this since the beginning of May, and this is the first public notice I’ve given. This is a little strange for someone who can’t wait to post whatever ailment he has that day. On this one, however, I decided to go the old-fashioned route. I didn’t take to social media. I called my friends. It’s intimate when something attacks you from inside, and I needed to talk or, at the very least, privately email them. (So, maybe not so old-fashioned.)

Word gets out, anyway, and that’s fine. It’s not a secret. I have tons of great support. I’ve even given Britt permission to enlist her prayer warriors. That’s a first for this Atheist Jew, whose usual reaction to “We will pray for you” is “Please, don’t.” It’s not because I found religion, but because I realize that the faithful truly believe they are helping. I am not going to ask my friends not to do that which they believe helps. I am not going to ask my friends not to turn to that which comforts them when someone they love is sick.

Two weeks into treatment, I was struck with a pulmonary embolism. This is a blood clot that finds its tiny, sticky way into your lungs. The key sign you have an embolism is that you feel as though someone chose to put up a skyscraper on your chest and neglected to get a permit from you. That morning I took a shower and ran out of breath. That afternoon, I was back in the hospital.

As a result, I now get to stick myself with a needle twice a day with blood thinners. This is the fifth drug I have started taking since chemo began to ward off the side effects of cancer and chemo. My medicine cabinet looks like a Jenga tower.

I have many more dates with needles and chemicals. What you’re reading is a cutdown of a much longer rambling at least six times as long. For now, I’m out of breath. Britt’s blog is exhausting.

Me and Stevie:  Cancer-card-carrying pals.

Me and Stevie: Cancer-card-carrying pals.

21 responses

  1. I love you, Steve Safran, and I am praying. Let me know if you need me to come to Boston to accept vegan muffins, chocolate-covered strawberries and assorted casseroles at your front door. Zealot Sister makes house calls, and I come with half a case of Prosecco and half a case of Duckhorn merlot.

    The hardest part is not being there to give you a hug you can feel for weeks. Might have to have Britt deliver one for me.



    • Thank you, Paige. I appreciate the offer (maybe not so much the vegan muffins, but the rest sounds good) and all your warm thoughts. I have had a good cancer ass-kicking role model in your sister.

      • Vegan muffins are the BEST kind of muffin. Because vegans will take any opportunity to show you that vegan baking is delicious, so you end up with SO MANY MUFFINS and also they are super delicious because it’s basically tasty activism.

        I have no wise words to say about cancer, so I will simply say that I hope your Jenga tower performs its functions successfully and swiftly.

  2. Steve,I am so sorry that you are going through these medical trials.I will pray for your wellbeing.Our love for Britt bonds us together.I am a church lady.Blessings,Carol

  3. Steve – Very sorry to hear of your misfortune. Your irreverent humor sounds like you have a good grasp on the tragedy of this diagnosis. Kudos, And godspeed. (not sure if that’s something to tell someone you want to get better or someone you wish the best for in her/his death) I’ll pray for you, brother.

  4. Well Steve, I’m not sure who told you it was “THE cancer to have”, but now I’m all confused cause my brother had thyroid cancer and they told hime “THAT was the cancer to have”. All kidding aside, I’m so sorry, and sending bundles of love as you walk through this. You are lucky to have a Brittle so close to you.

    • Katie: I understand your confusion. At the time, your brother’s cancer was THE one to have and was quite fashionable. However, Testicular Cancer is THE cancer this season. You obviously weren’t at the Oncology Spring Collection shows in New York City last fall.

  5. In remission and want you to be in the same place. All my good thoughts are with you and we don’t even know each other. You have cancer and that’s all I need to know to wish you the best.

  6. Testicles are overrated, but F cancer nonetheless. I wish I could give you a hug, the kind that lingers too long and you tell me to stop. Plus, you only come up to my belly button, so it would look hilarious when we hug. XOXO – Baker

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