On this day last year, I coughed up some blood while shampooing my head in the shower. I remember chuckling to myself as I remembered Sweet Brown's timeless lines, "...I got BRONCHITIS. Ain't nobody got time for that!"
I wasn't too concerned on the drive to the ER–I even remember being mildly annoyed at the inconvenience of having to go to a county hospital on a weekend night and wait among the cockroach people, a result of my shitty insurance, and poverty of my own. I figured I had acquired bronchitis or pneumonia over the past few months, after all, I usually washed my darkroom prints outside following my all-night printing sessions, sometimes in the rain.
"Fuck, I knew I should've worn a jacket more often," I grumbled to myself.
To my surprise, I didn't have to wait too long, and at 9:19 pm an ER nurse called my name and escorted me inside to be assessed (apparently breathing problems are taken serious, so if you ever want to game the system and be seen ahead of everybody else at the ER, just tell them you can't breathe).
At 5:23 am, the following morning, I walked out of there, not with bronchitis or pneumonia, but with cancer. In the following days to come I would return to that building, be placed in the ICU as the aggressive tumor that housed my chest cavity threatened to send me into cardiac arrest, and started emergency chemotherapy.
A year later, and I'm grateful to say I'm alive, living with a dead tumor spooning my heart and lungs, but alive nonetheless. Thank you to all the Filipino nurses, online strangers who sent me words of encouragement on here, and IRL friends who brought me food during my week-long chemo sessions, I appreciate you all.