The Road to Bell

Posted on: Saturday, November 19th, 2016
Posted in: SoulTrain | 9 comments


The journey continues, rather like the band Journey’s songs that have everyone—toddlers, stadiums full of sports-fan losers, and the cast in the pilot, epic episode of Glee—singing, “Don’t Stop Believing” for decades now. I’ve finished 5 treatments on my radiation journey, which also feels like decades now. But I haven’t stopped believing that someday this cancer journey will end and my comedy journey can begin in earnest. (5 journeys: Yay!)

At the radiation unit, there’s a golden bell on the wall right inside the entrance. Imagine the jubilation! Hear the hope! Let cancer-freedom ring! Or so I mistakenly thought—assuming that a patient got to ring that thing after every treatment, or at least after the ones that didn’t kill you. That seemed both savvy and fun—affordable care action at its finest!

But, no-o-o-o-o. That bell gets rung only after one’s final radiation. And I’m sorry to note that, although I’ve been spending plenty of time there, I’ve yet to hear that bell ring. Not once. Let us not ponder what that suggests.

Instead, the sound in the waiting room is always smooth jazz, perhaps by Kenny G. It might be the same song, over and over. I happen to LOVE music. ALL music. But I hate THAT music. So when I arrive, I always tell the receptionist, “It’s Kirk. I still haven’t been out of the country in the last 21 days. This music makes me have to go the bathroom.” And so I do.

By the time I finish my business and get those sound waves out of my head to make room for electromagnetic ones, one of the Rayettes awaits outside the door. And away we go, leaving that come-hither but silent bell in the distance.

  • Ever the prankster

Still, when I’m in a jaunty mood, which fortunately isn’t very often, I have taken to hanging out by that bell and threatening to ring it. One day, I announced my intentions loudly enough to catch the attention of my fellow victims in the waiting room. Oh, for the excitement! A few actually got out of their chairs and gathered around!

“Do you get to ring the bell?” “Are you finished?” “Oh, good for you!” they beamed so sincerely I actually felt kinda bad. Then, shyly, I had to fess up, “No, no, not yet. Sorry. But someday, right?” Their smiles fell to half-mast as they shuffled back to their chairs to listen to Kenny G and page through Cancer Today! magazine.

  • Helpful hints for enduring treatment
Radiation therapy isn’t so bad…but it can make you feel pretty close to the Edge.

Radiation therapy isn’t so bad…but it can make you feel pretty close to the Edge.

To be honest, radiation therapy isn’t that bad. (To be more honest, it isn’t that good, either.) It usually is fast, though; I’ll say that for it. The Rayettes don’t mess around—no small talk, no foreplay, just strap onto that hard table and into that bondage mask that, I swear, gets tighter every day, or else my face keeps getting fatter.

Then, ZAP! Let the rays begin! I have developed a nifty routine to guide me through the sessions. First, I panic. Then, I pray. Only for certain things, of course—a guy doesn’t want to appear greedy before God—so the list is limited to 26 and is now alphabetized, with Z standing for zees (sleep). Then, I turn to my mindfulness and meditation training which, with any luck, gets me a peaceful, easy feeling. That tends to get boring, though, so I let my mind wander toward more creative pursuits, like writing my next post. That’s pretty productive—and is actually where I thought of this sentence! And this one! (But I decided against this one, as that would be repetitive and redundant.)

Then, finally, after about three weeks, one of the Rayettes dances back into the room and sings, “Okay! All done!” and sets me free to run like a frightened deer straight back to Kenny G and that bell we’re not allowed to ring.

Real jazz? Composure under facial pressure? Liberty bell?

I so don’t got this.

But someday, right?

Anyhow, thanks for listening…


A picture of real jazz, composure, and liberty. Someday, right?

A picture of real jazz, composure, and liberty. Someday, right?

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9 Responses to “The Road to Bell”

  1. Hawk Says:

    Love you, keep winning

  2. Kirk Horsted Says:

    Love you back, Bro P. Day by day, I AM winning this crazy game…

  3. Hawk Says:


  4. Rich Young Says:

    Keep on truckin’ my friend. Love the writing also.

  5. Kirk Horsted Says:

    Can’t wait till I can sing, “What a long, strange trip it’s BEEN!” You keep reading; I’ll keep writing. Thanks!

  6. Sarah Sanford Says:

    Thanks for the smiles of all styles: The proud ones, the rueful ones, the amused ones, the completely human ones. I will keep you in my thoughts. Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Kirk Horsted Says:

    And happy Turkey Day to you, too, Sarah. I’m smiling because you are–even sometimes when I don’t feel so human! Thanks for your thoughts!

  8. Denise Adam Says:

    Thanks so much for your writings. It’s nice to know through life’s greatest test , there’s light.
    The dark doesn’t seem so dark reading your post Thanks

  9. Kirk Horsted Says:

    There IS light. Even above my head by the bell. Thank you, Denise.

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