Art

Giving up is not in my personality.

Just ask the guys I’ve been playing tennis with every week for 20 years. Good guys. Good tennis. They may outplay me. But they won’t outwork me.

My weekends usually revolve around the grandkids. I’ve got seven so there’s always something going on. Last weekend we went to my oldest granddaughter's soccer game. They’re undefeated going into the playoffs. Then it was off to another granddaughter’s flag football game, another's softball game and my grandson's hockey game at Boss Arena.

A couple years ago I played my regular Sunday tennis in East Providence. Nothing unusual. But on Tuesday I had pain radiating from my hip. And by Thursday I couldn’t even walk with crutches.

The Emergency Room at Rhode Island Hospital did some tests that revealed tumors—a couple the size of grapefruit—near my spine. T-cell lymphoma. Suddenly playing tennis again was the least of my worries.

I must have seen a million doctors from every specialty. I knew spinal surgeries often carried the risk of paralysis. The neurosurgeons agreed, so over 43 days I had intense radiation and chemotherapy.

The tumors receded but my muscles had atrophied and I had a long road ahead of me. I spent a lot of time with the wonderful people at the Vanderbilt Rehabilitation Center at Newport Hospital. My first goal: move my big toe.

Then it was months and months of small goals. I can’t describe how much my wife and family did for me. My wife actually hurt her back helping me which made me more determined than ever to recover so I’d stop being a burden on her.

Later, my doctors and therapists all told me they doubted I’d ever walk again. Clearly they’d never played tennis with me.

Well, they can this Sunday. I’ll be out there with the regulars.

Like I said, giving up is not in my personality.

—Art, Narragansett RI