Near Death Experience

I have something of a personal story to relate to all you faithful readers of Needmore Notes. Bear with me.

Several weeks ago, in preparation for a performance in the Kelley and Jason Show, I fell and injured a rib. This seemed to also re-injure an old back problem, so after a few days of pain, I went in to see my doctor. She felt the injury was no big deal, but at my insistence, she sent me off to get an X-Ray of my chest.

Surprisingly, the doctor’s office called me the next day and wanted me to get a CT Scan because they “found something.” This, of course, sets off some alarms. You don’t want to hear that they’ve found something in your chest, so I got a little paranoid. I smoked for about ten years, so the first thing that came to mind was lung cancer. Not a pleasant thought. And no comfort was to come from a phone call the following Monday: “The doctor wants to see you first thing tomorrow morning.”

The news was not good. “We think you have lung cancer.” Oh, really? There was the possibility of a few other things, but most likely it was lung cancer. I tried to remain calm while they made me an appointment to see a lung specialist, but the appointment was not for almost two weeks. In the meantime, I kinda freaked out. I, with the help of Kandace, switched to a mostly raw foods, anti-cancer diet. I gave up coffee. Wouldn’t stand within twenty feet of a smoker. I bought and read several books on natural cancer cures, joined several online groups, and read every crazy cure out there. I was having nothing but cottage cheese and flax seed oil for breakfast. We bought a juicer, and I drank juices and herbal teas all day long. We signed up for a two week cleansing course, made appointments with a nutritionist… I even started reading an Anthony Robbins book.

We were just a wreck. It was next to impossible to focus on work, or the conference we were attending. I was afraid to tell anyone, choking up around strangers, waiting to see if the lung specialist might have some hopeful news. I had finally come to terms with the fact that I had lung cancer, and might be dead in six months. I had started to plan what those six months would be like, what I still wanted to accomplish, and what I would be leaving behind. I even decided on the music I wanted to be playing at my funeral.

Finally, last week, the appointment with the lung specialist came. They did a series of breathing tests, and the doctor asked me an endless series of questions about my condition, symptoms, lifestyle, and so on. Finally, we came to the subject I had been dreading.

“It seems that your primary care physician told you that you have lung cancer.”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Well, you don’t have lung cancer. That’s probably good news, isn’t it?”

Yes. That is good news, my good doctor. That is good news.

Turns out he’s 99% sure I have Sarcoidosis, a disease which I now refer to as not lung cancer. The symptoms are mild, but I do have some of them, and the disease is often discovered by chance during a chest X-Ray, just as it was for me. It’ll probably go away by itself in time, but we’ll be checking in with another CT Scan in a few months.

I just wanted to share this experience with you all. It’s not often one goes through this kind of stuff (hopefully), and believe me, it’s life-changing. I’m still on a mostly raw foods diet, drinking lots of tea and juice, and feel as though I have a renewed focus and clarity, for which I am extremely grateful.

So what else can I say? It’s great to be alive! Yay!

Raymond Brigleb

Creative Director, dreamer, partner, father, musician, photographer. Has been known to ride the rails. Pulls one heck of a shot.