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Mike Tasos: Not taking Christmas for granted this year
Mike Tasos

Generally speaking, I like things with three names: Robert Earl Keen and Jerry Jeff Walker in the music world. James Lee Burke is a favorite author. I hope to go to Cabo San Lucas someday.

However, I would be dancing like Snoopy if I never had to hear “Renal cell carcinoma” with a finger pointed my way.

It seems like I have a good case of it. Maybe a “good” case is a poor description. If there was any way to possibly have a knock-down fistfight with my left kidney, let’s ring the bell.

Soon, there will be a day of reckoning for me and “Lefty.” He’ll tag me pretty good and leave me woozy. I’ll be down for a nine-count. 

Someone will wave an ammonia capsule under my nose, my head will clear, and I’ll be ready for future challenges.

Lefty, that bum, will have been given the Veg-O-Matic treatment, sliced and diced in a pathology lab.

Let me clear this up: I have kidney cancer and on January 12th Dr. Adam Mellis will kick Lefty to the curb and I’ll live out my years with one kidney.

It’s going to be fine. At least that’s what I’ve been told. Lots of people only have one kidney. That’s all fine and good, but if I had my druthers, I’d just as soon have two.


Dr. Mellis will have some help. His da Vinci robot will be doing the yeoman’s share of the work while the doctor mans the controls. It’s no small wonder that I have been having “Lost in Space” nightmares, being menaced by that crazy contraption from the TV show of my youth. 

On January 12th, if there’s a Dr. Smith in the operating area and a Will Robinson in the recovery room, I’m heading for the hills.

Brian “No Relation to Mario” Lemieux, is a talented salesperson who works with me. His out-of-the-box thinking has helped him win a plethora of sales contests throughout his career. He is scheming to kidnap Lefty and sell it as a refurbished model in Mexico.

I told him he had to be “kidneying” me. He’ll probably make enough to pay for Christmas.

It’s remarkable how this episode has played out. What was perceived as a right-side kidney stone turned out to be the big Casino on the left side. 

I have always loved giving more than receiving, especially during this special time of year. I am especially warm and fuzzy when I can give seven kinds of holy hell to car warranty scammers. I believe my curmudgeon-like behavior has landed me on some type of telemarketer no-call list.

When asked what I am getting for Christmas, my quick “Big C” reply has folks shaking their heads. 

Make no mistake, RC squared is not what I wanted. I was hoping for some new slippers, LL Bean fleece sweatshirt and a Jeff Foxworthy desk calendar. That would have been plenty.

But what am I going to do? I’ve played this whole thing close to the vest. I’m looking for prayers, not pity. And I am 100 percent convinced that something good will come of this.

The prognosis is as good as I can hope for: No chemotherapy. No radiation. 

I’m not ready to check out just yet. Still have some shelf life left. 

I’ve been over-tipping and smiling a lot. This Christmas means just a little more. I’m not taking it for granted.

And in case you’re listening Lefty, I ain’t no easy win. We’ve been close for 66 years. Just wait until Dr. Mellis and his robot get finished with you.

Looking back on the past two months, there’s nothing quite so surreal as being told what’s going on inside of you. 

Am I scared? Absolutely terrified. But I know it could be worse. A lot worse.

When the surgery was proposed, I asked Dr. Mellis what was the time frame? I was less-than-anxious to jump on the table.

“I wouldn’t wait until May,” was his advice.

“Can I wait until the national championship (January 10th)?” I asked.

Thus, his robot will pound Lefty into submission two days later. 


Mike Tasos’ column appears every other weekend. Rick Bragg’s mama and Sister Rosann Fraher are among those praying for me. He knows we got this. He is on Facebook and can be emailed at miketasos@earthlink.net.