"Hey, Cancer, You In There?"

September 9, 2019
Gary Stromberg
Gary Stromberg

Gary Stromberg co-founded GIBSON & STROMBERG, a large and influential music public relations firm of the sixties and seventies. The company represented such luminaries as The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Muhammad Ali, Barbra Streisand, Boyz II Men, Neil Diamond, Ray Charles, The Doors, Earth, Wind & Fire, Elton John, Three Dog Night and Crosby, Stills, & Nash. He also spent time in the film business co-producing movies such as Car Wash (Universal Studios) and The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh (Lorimar/United Artists). Stromberg has also written three books, The Harder They Fall (Hazelden - 2007) and Feeding the Fame (Hazelden - 2009) and a third book for McGraw-Hill Publishing, entitled Second Chances, which was published in 2011. He's currently working on a fourth book, She's Come Undone, for HCI Publishing, which will come out next spring.

"If cancer wants to come after me again, it better be ready to fight!"

I know this might sound crazy, but sometimes before I fall asleep at night, I lay on my back, close my eyes and listen for where I think cancer may be lurking in my body. If it’s creeping around inside me, I’ll hear it.

I think of cancer like a weak-signaled FM radio station in a small town, faintly broadcasting over the airwaves. I must be still though, for cancer is a sneaky foe.

“Shhhh,” I tell myself, “breathe quietly and listen.” Some of you it might think this seems like a senseless waste of time, but I don’t. Cancer almost did me in seven years ago. Leukemia to be exact. And if I can help it, I’m not going to let it happen again. If it’s in there, I'm going to find it!

I listen intently as I conduct my survey, starting with my head. I’ve asked myself, what does cancer sound like anyway? I don’t really know, but I’ll recognize it if I hear it. Brain cancer is probably the most fear inducing and must be the most difficult to detect. Are there any abnormal sensations circulating through the various lobes in my cranium?

Unable to locate anything unusual, I move on; eyes, mouth, throat, neck, chest. How’s my heart doing? Sounds pretty good.

Now I take a deep breath and check out my lungs. I haven’t smoked in many years so it’s not likely cancer has taken residency there. Inhale, exhale, all clear. I check my abdomen next. Lots to listen to here. My stomach always seems to be gurgling, dealing with all the stuff I feed it. It’s well-fed, that’s for sure!

How about liver cancer? Which side is the liver on, anyway? To be safe, I listen to both sides. Nothing there. Next I’ll search for my pancreas. Pancreatic cancer is what took my girlfriend this past spring. She thought it was a hernia, but she was wrong. Gone in six horrendous weeks.

What next? The most likely soft-spot cancer might attack; my prostate. My dad had prostate cancer, but he caught it early and radiation treatment slowed it down considerably. He died of other causes before it did him in. What does the prostate sound like, anyway?

I recently went online to see how many types of cancer there are and found a list of 40. That’s more than I can possibly search for, but I’ve got my sensory warning system on high alert. If cancer wants to come after me again, it better be ready to fight!

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