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Round Two of a fight that was supposed to be over Tom Basinski | Sat, Oct 02 2010 12:00 PM

Over a year ago I shared with you the personal travails of colorectal cancer. In more graphic detail than many of you probably wanted, I wrote about radiation, chemotherapy, surgery and more chemotherapy. I thought I had beaten it, receiving a clean bill of health.

Last May at the Cancer Society's Relay For Life at Chula Vista High School, I gave a spellbinding (I thought so anyway) speech about how I fought cancer and beat it.

The medical victory was temporary. The cancer came back, in the same neighborhood (colorectal), in its customary insidious form, that of a tumor.

While some might be happy about my problem, the news saddens my friends. The Chula Vista Police retirees, with whom I toiled for many years, have responded with care and empathy. They showed their characteristic senses of humor that not everyone might appreciate, but I love. The good news is that a CT/PET scan didn't detect any cancer elsewhere, or other abnormalities.

Thank goodness my oncologist, Dr. Marilyn "Sandy" Norton, is meticulous, thorough and detail-oriented. She continued to monitor my health when I thought all those follow-up blood tests she insisted on were a waste of time.

My gastroenterologist, Dr. Steven Brozinsky, discovered the tumor. His empathy in breaking the news to us is heartwarming, and shatters the stereotype of the detached clinician. It pained him to tell us what he found. Terrific guy, that Brozinsky.

I'm having the surgery on Monday, Oct 4. I hope the cutter, Dr. Stephen Summers, gets a good night's sleep on Sunday and his expert, steady hand and eagle eyes stay that way. I also hope the efficient Pre-Op and Operating Room teams at Sharp Hospital in Chula Vista that draw my name adhere to their usual high standards. When I had my hip replaced at Sharp in August 2008, the nursing staff there was five-star. I hope they continue their fine methods.

Throughout this long ordeal the only time I suffered was last fall during the two-day periods following my three-hour chemo drip and the battery-operated chemo pump I wore for the two days following the drip. Except for the chemo, I felt fine and continued on with my life, including daily workouts at the South Bay YMCA and umpiring in various Chula Vista adult softball leagues and at Parkview Little League.

But, it's back again, and radiation is not an option this time. Chemotherapy isn't either, a bit of good news. I am having invasive surgery in the southernmost region this time, which includes a colostomy.

Instead of Frank Sinatra's "My Way," my new theme song will be a form of James Brown's: "Tommy's Got a Brand New Bag."

While the thought of a colostomy is no fun, I won't complain. A coach I knew once said, "Don't complain about your problems. 90 percent of the people don't care you're having them and 10 percent are glad." A few people do care, and they let me know.

Colostomy users live a normal life, with a few restrictions, or so I'm told. Besides, having to wear and care for the bag is better than the alternative, and you know what the alternative is.

During the past year three friends approximately my age died from cancer so you won't catch me whining over having to comply with a daily ritual that we all would rather not think about.

On the upside, the next time I'm umpiring and a ballplayer tells me I'm full of crap I'll merely say, "You're wrong. I just checked and I'm only half full."

I don't know how long my recuperation period will be. I'll try to search my brain for some entertaining police lore to write about while I'm on the mend.

Basinski is a retired 35-year veteran cop.

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Katie Wagner Says:

Tue, Oct 12 2010 03:54 PM

Mr. Basinksi, I don't know if you remember me, but I was your student nurse frrm PLNU during your stay on the 12th. Just wanted to say that I will be praying for you and hope you get to go home soon. Love your articles!

Dianne Martin Says:

Mon, Oct 04 2010 11:33 AM

Thanks for sending me your October 2 article. It was very good. Today is the day for your surgery. I hope and pray all goes well, and your recuperation is fast. Please let us all know how you are doing.

Char Mallow Says:

Sun, Oct 03 2010 12:09 PM

What a great article. Tom, your humor and outlook will inspire many people going through similar situations. God Bless You and best of luck. Keep everyone up to date with your articles.

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