Bryan, age 52 / Ohio, USA

GOAP_Bryan

I’ve had cancer three times, I had stage four cancer. I’ve been through a lot. Every day is a bad day for me at some point or another. I got neuropathy from taking a particular medication. It’s from like above my knees all the way down to my feet, like someone has taken a truck and ran over your feet. Your feet are extremely sensitive in some places, in some places you have no feeling at all.

It knocks your balance off, some people can’t walk, and it burns constantly.  I was a dancer in my former life, and they brought me these two arm canes and said, “Here. You’re gonna need these.” I said, “No. If I can’t get them to match my outfit, then those are not gonna work for me.” So I just re-adjusted my balance.

I woke up seven and a half months ago and I couldn’t see out of my left eye. My family is like, “How do you do this?” I’m like, “It’s not a matter of how you do it, you know, you wake up each day and that’s what you do.”

It could be worse. I could have neuropathy AND be blind. I got neuropathy and I can see out of one eye. It could always be worse, you know? Just to show you, one of the other cancers I had, I had penile cancer. My sister went to the hospital with me and she was nervous. I said, “Well? If they have to cut it off, I’ll just get a Cadillac.” She looked at me and said, “Do you handle everything like this?” And I was like, “Well, what can I do? It is what it is.” I can’t believe that I’m still here.

The thing is, I have been longer with HIV than I had without. I know I’ve been through almost everything. I mean, since ‘84 I have been there, done that two or three times. You can’t tell me anything horrible that I haven’t probably done. The only thing I haven’t been through is death!

But what really scares me is, am I gonna die alone. I think that’s the most scary part for me.  Because I had a partner that passed. But it’s funny, because the week before the conference I reconnected with somebody, and it’s coming full circle.