coyote

A Year in the Life

I guess this makes me a cancer survivor now?  Shouldn’t that come with a medal or a cape or some sort of frame-worthy certificate, at the very least?

In case that’s too oblique, the PET scan results were good and there is no indication of cancer although there are a couple of caveats.  I’ll get to all that in a moment.

For the last several days… hell, for the last several months… I have been preparing myself for bad news.  As I’ve said in previous posts here, I don’t feel all that great most of the time and a lot of what is happening was troubling concerning my recent medical history.  Abdominal pain, weight loss, nausea, lack of energy, pain near a cyst on my back… none of these are good things when one has had cancer, especially the type of cancer I had.  It’s like when Wile E. Coyote is in hot pursuit of the Road Runner and they pass a sign that says “Bridge Out Ahead.”  You just know that the Road Runner will sail on across the chasm unaffected by silly things like gravity while poor old Wile E. will get about halfway out and then suddenly his body will drop and his neck will stretch out really long and then his head will drop and it’s dust clouds and stars at the bottom of the ravine.

Just to be clear, in this particular pop culture reference I am the coyote, only no one has ever referred to me as a super genius.

So yeah, my brain has been filled with doom and gloom.  I was even practicing how I was going to tell people that I was dying. That sounds a little sick, I guess, but as many of you know words are very important to me and when you have to impart news like that, choosing the right ones to use is critical.  You can’t just blurt out, “I’m dying.”  That would suck for everyone involved.  Besides, it’s inelegant and lacks a certain je ne sais quoi.  I don’t know what je ne sais quoi means, but I’m sure it lacks it.

That last sentence was totally meta, by the way.

Preparing for the worst and being surprised when it doesn’t happen has been my modus operandi for most of my life.  Some people might call that pessimism but I prefer to call it situational awareness.  I don’t want bad things to happen and understand that most of the time they don’t.  I mean, after all, the list of shit that could go wrong from the moment you get out of bed is epic and I have never been shot, stabbed, electrocuted, attacked by killer bees, mauled by a rabid ferret, drowned in the bathtub, hit by falling space debris, pinned under earthquake rubble, or run down by an ’87 Oldsmobile driven by an elderly woman who should’ve turned in her license ten years ago, to name a few things that spring to mind.  I don’t expect any of that stuff to happen but if it does, I would much rather be the person that knew it was a possibility than the dumbass laying in a hospital bed who says, “I thought the old lady was gonna stop!  I was in the crosswalk!!”

My problem is (and always has been) that while I am prepared for the worst, I’m not always prepared for the best.  Take now, as an example.  I don’t know what to do with “there are no indications of cancer.”  It’s good news; I get that.  Break out the champagne type of news.  Logically, I know I should be thrilled and yet here I am kind of… hmmm… what’s the word I’m looking for?  Perplexed, perhaps.  Perplexed and a little flummoxed.  I am at sixes and sevens as the Brits like to say.

I don’t know what to do with “there are no indications of cancer.”  I don’t know how to process that.  It just doesn’t compute.

Part of it, I think, is because of the aforementioned not feeling good.  I didn’t want cancer to be the reason for all that and as I said in my last post wasn’t actually expecting it to be cancer, but at least that would have been an explanation.  I can deal with anything as long as I know what it is but ambiguity and a lack of information makes me insane.  To be clear, I’m NOT saying that I’m disappointed that it’s not cancer causing all of this stuff, but I am disappointed that I still don’t know what is.

Another part of it, I posit (yes, thesaurus.com is getting a workout today), is that I have been so wrapped up in cancer that I don’t know what I look like without it.  It’s been almost exactly a year.  I had my endoscopy on June 1st of 2012 and got the confirmation of the cancer diagnosis on June 13th.  A year of dealing with the having it and getting it cut out and recovering from the having it cut out and the maybe having it again and the on and on and on.  No matter how you deal with it, cancer, I have learned, is not lower case.  It is all-caps and strong punctuation: CANCER!!!  No matter what people say and how hard people try for it not to be, it is, in some ways, defining.  You are a person with cancer; it is quite literally a part of you.  And even though it’s a part of you that you don’t want, not having it anymore is strange.  It’s a good strange, I guess, but strange nevertheless.

While I try to figure out how to process all this, we should talk about the caveats.  First, I’ve got this cyst on my back and that needs to be biopsied just to make sure.  That will happen with a small surgical procedure that will apparently totally ruin my vow to not let people cut me open anymore.  Second, the PET scan did show “nodular thickening and hypermetabolic activity” in the gastric area where the original cancer and subsequent surgery happened.  Much like the stuff you see on Fox News, this is most likely inflammatory in nature and should be ignored but since the “possibility of carcinoma cannot be excluded” (taken from the report) they need to go have a little look-see.  This means another endoscopy, which will bring the whole thing full-circle.

So some more tests and waiting rooms and medical bills but for the most part this should mean that I am done with all of this cancer… sorry, CANCER!!!… stuff.

Okay… now what do I do?

(that’s rhetorical – please don’t send me suggestions)