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Disease of the Week

with Tennis Elbow Jones

Disease of the Week
Tennis Elbow Jones

Just got back from the doctor again this morning. Got me a diagnosis of aggressive melanoma. I do believe that this latest cancer makes it official-I have now got me the cancer in over 50 per cent of my body. From the tip of my nose to the tip of my toes, there's a whole lot of mutant cell growin' goin' on in this 85 year-old bag of bones.

They say you never forget your first, and I certainly do recall my first diagnosis, all the way back in 1951. I was a young Tennis Elbow making my way across the Unites States of America with the legendary Eddie "Forkball" McHenry when I felt a lump in my neck in Omaha that I later discovered was lymphoma, which I was informed was cancer of the lymphatic system-a crazy set-up that runs north to south and east to west through the human body like the old Union-Pacific line.

Over the last 50 years, I've had me some Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Leukemia, Colo-Rectal Cancer, Testicular Cancer, Knee Cancer, Bone Cancer, Tooth Cancer, (didn't know you could get that one), not to mention some elbow cancer, of course…….the cancer comes, the cancer goes, but Tennis Elbow keep on a-truckin'.
(For a complete chronology of all of my cancer diagnoses, 1952-1980 era, check out the track Find my Lump from the Health Anxiety Blues, a double album that I cut with Sir Miles Davis back in 1981.)

Why, I even lose track of where my cancer is and where it isn't. The other day, my nurse saw a spot on my arm and said that it could be skin cancer and maybe I should have it looked at by a doctor. I told her, "I've already got cancer there, don't need the doc to tell me anything new about that!" The nurse was unconvinced, so to settle the dispute, I consulted my trusty 'cancer book', which could be best described as a personal journal that keeps track of where I got it and where I don't at any particular moment.

I tell you, 85 years of hard livin' sure can take its toll on the memory, as I discovered that my left forearm was in fact cancer free up to this point in time. But after 50 some years, now it's about as stressful as goin' down to McDonald's for a Big Mac. Same old routine-hop in the Cadillac, drive to the clinic, biopsy, diagnosis, prescription, pills, home in time for The Weakest Link. (I do admire the sass of that Mrs. Anne Robinson lady)

All the boys on the road told me back then that I was crazy for wasting my money, but I do thank God for the professional bluesman's health insurance plan that I was talked into buying when I was starting up in the business. Otherwise, I'd probably be livin' in a box somewhere or even worse, tenement housing, instead of the relative affluence of suburban Chicago. Why, thanks to my planning ahead, I even got me my own personal nurse to look after me. Which reminds me-I do reckon that it's right about time for my sponge bath.

Tennis Elbow Jones is an 85-year old Blues legend best known for his seminal 1963 album, the Should be Dead Blues. His doctors estimate that he is afflicted with approximately 65 per cent of all diseases, ailments and conditions known to humanity.

Posted on June 15th, 2001

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