Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The News Could Be Better


I recently learned -- gradually and then suddenly, like the bankrupt Hemingway character -- that I have cancer. Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, to be precise. Stage 4, with a tennis-ball-size liver tumor and numerous little sidekick tumors. Not one of your kinder, gentler cancers.

Believe me, I have every intention of fighting and beating this thing. And my wife, Jacqueline, is helping me fight and beat this thing. I wouldn't bet on This Thing, quite frankly. Still, the odds are not in our favor, and we are nothing if not realistic. We are putting whatever faith we can muster in science aided by determination, not sunny affirmations or soft-focus memes. We will not shy from gallows humor.

For several years now, Jacqueline and I have looked at each other and shaken our heads and marveled at our good fortune. If we had behaved this way in front of other people, it would have seemed smug and boastful. But we really were grateful, and we still are. I have had a great life. I have a great wife, a great family, a great job, etc., etc. I would not trade 55 of these years for 75 or 85 or 95 of what's behind Door No. 2.

And isn't it lucky to have some warning, at a relatively young age and with my mind intact? Not all causes of death work that way -- I could have been run over by a car. This way, I have time, maybe a little and maybe more than that, to take it all in. To savor the little things. I get weepy now when I see trees and cardinals and cardinals in the trees. Am I really missing all that much if I never get to be a doddering old man?

Speaking of smug boasts, have I mentioned that I can swing neither of my cats without hitting a world-class cancer center? I chose one of the very best: Johns Hopkins is less than an hour a way, with a satellite even closer to home at Sibley Memorial Hospital (SMH, as in "shaking my head"). I've since learned that "my team of specialists" is a phrase that doesn't sound nearly as good as you think it's going  to,  but still, I have a team of specialists. And that team has a plan. I've started chemotherapy. Soon, there will be radiation, in the form of teeny-weeny little beads sent directly into the diseased  area.

In other words, as lucky as I am to be escaping doddering-old-man status, maybe I'll be really lucky. Maybe I'll end up a doddering old man.


37 comments:

Jim Grey said...

I'm so sorry to hear that this is the hand you're currently dealt. Best wishes and be as well as you can through this.

Deb Schiff said...

Hey Bill, Very sorry to read about The Thing, but will keep you and your family, as well as your team of specialists, in my thoughts and prayers.

Jonathon Owen said...

I'm so sorry to hear this, Bill. I wish you the best of luck.

Stan said...

As news goes that's lousy. I'm sorry to hear it, and I wish you the best in living with the cancer – and hopefully beyond it.

(I just looked up Lapsing... to check your entry on 'hopefully', though it works either way this time.)

Jerry said...

Bill, all the best for your recovery. I'll be thinking of you when I edit the next lousy news release that comes my way.

Donna Marks said...

Best wishes to you and family. My prayers have been said for you.

justmusing said...

Here's hoping I get to watch you dodder around for many, many years! Who else will tolerate my arguments about "may" versus "might"?
From Nancy who simply won't retire.

Fritinancy said...

This is lousy news indeed, but I'm glad for your team of specialists and your determination. I'll be thinking about you.

Kate Karp said...

Bill, I know that you're going to fight this f888ing bastard with every iota of the same force you use on grocer's apostrophes. I'm glad you're at JOhns HOpkins--you'll get good care. If you come across a specialist named Robert Yolken, talk cats with him.

My wishes added to all above and those that follow, to you, Jacqueline, the cats and your family.

Jan said...

So sorry to hear this, Bill. Here's hoping that you, like Steven Jay Gould, find yourself way out on the tail of the survival curve. Meanwhile, your friends IRL and online will be rooting for you.

RangeWoman said...

I've read all of your books and was hoping for a new one soon. Thanks for this great post and I like the idea that you and your wife decided not shy from gallows humor. I think that's what keeps people in dire straits going. Best wishes for a recovery.

Cassidy Moore said...

I have been a fan of your books and your blog since my days as a wee copy editor. I am sorry to hear this news, and I wish you all the best.

Joseph Priest said...

Keeping you in my thoughts and wishing you the fastest and easiest treatment to a full recovery.

I've read all your books and refer to them almost every week.

We're all pulling for you!

MomQueenBee said...

I've been your fan for years, and will try to pay back the joy your blog has given me in the only currency I can offer--prayers and good thoughts.

ccr in MA said...

I am so sorry to hear this, but wish you all the best in your fight. Keep up the great attitude!

Katharine said...

I've enjoyed bantering with you each month on the "Grammar Geekery" Post online chat, and am grateful for your inspiration to us all to try to make our writing clearer.

Kathie Baker
http://www.inolongerlikechocolates.com/author_translators.htm

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Bill, you don't know me, but I've long been a quiet fan of yours. My thoughts are with you and your family as you fight The Thing.

NaPoMarie said...

Thank you for this post, great attitude and all. We will all be rooting for you.

Carol J. Roberts said...

Bill, I'm so sorry to hear of your illness. I wish you and Jacqueline all the best during the fight of your life.

Bill Blinn said...

Fight hard, sir. If anyone can beat this demon, you can.

Marla said...

I have seen you speak twice at the ACES conferences and enjoyed you immensely.I cannot fathom not seeing your face there, so you here's to beating The Thing so you can continue doddering around at the ACES conferences for years to come.

Marla

Lea Galanter said...

I am so saddened to hear of your health news. You have been one of my heroes for (could it be?) 20 years, ever since you taught me why e-mail should have a hyphen. I will send good energy your way that you beat this to continue many more years of editorial wisdom.

Ranee Tomlin said...

Bill, as a completely new copyeditor, I was lucky enough to sit at your table during the 2015 ACES conference banquet. I was quietly starstruck and bought "Lapsing into a Comma" right after I returned home from Pittsburgh. Now I wish I had done a better job of expressing my admiration for you in person (why didn't I have you autograph my napkin?), but I'm grabbing this second chance to let you know how much I appreciate your immense contributions to copyediting—and to tell you what a nice human being you are. I wish you all kinds of second chances yourself.

Cynthia said...

You have been a witty and graceful delight, as evidenced even in this post. Sending good vibes for you and your wife's journey ahead!

mhelfield said...

Hi Bill,

This is tough news. I support you with all my might. Your attitude is incredible. I am happy to see you have the very best medical experts on your team.

With best wishes from Montreal,

Michael

Greg Ioannou said...

Swinging cats is an excellent strategy for choosing a hospital -- I'll have to remember it next time.

It would be presumptuous of me to suggest how best to beat this thing. I still freak out at stubbed toes and broken fingernails.

I think anyone who can write something as good as this blog post under these circumstances really deserves to live until eleventy-one. So I'll just add my hopes and best wishes to the big pile that's already accumulated.

Greg

Unknown said...

Bill,
Thank you for this reminder to be thankful for life's blessings. With your (electronic) pen as your sword and with Jacqueline as your partner in battle you are well-equipped to fight This Thing. My husband always tells people to hold on. So I borrow his words in wishing that you fight hard and hold on.
Esther Hecht, Jerusalem

AElfwine Mischler said...

Bill,

Let's hope you live to be an old man but not a doddering one. I heard you speak at the ACES 2006 conference in Cleveland. You've been helping your fellow editors for a long time. Now take back some of that positive energy you've given to others. Fight on.
AElfwine Mischler, Cairo

Roby Sweet said...

Bill, you'll get excellent care at Hopkins. I've been treated there for several serious maladies, and I can't say enough good things about them. Just don't expect them to ever be on time. Wishing you and your wife all the best. Fight on!

Hazel Blumberg-McKee said...

I'm so very sorry to hear about your news, Bill. I hope that medical science can be of help--of enormous help. Lots of other editors out there are rooting for you! Take good care of yourself, and let us know how you're doing.

Hazel Blumberg-McKee, Tallahassee, Florida

Michael Dowding said...

Bill -

So very sorry to hear this news. You have a great attitude, great priorities, and great support. Beat this!

EWest said...

Courage and strength! I've admired you since the old Copyediting-L days and know that if anyone has the fortitude and good humour required to beat such a cancer, it's you. Good luck, and keep us posted.

Elena Westbrook

Mark Murphy said...

We've never met, but I have all your books, I've seen you speak at an ACES conference, you have on occasion patiently answered emailed questions from me over issues that came up on deadline (when I was still working on a newspaper) and I am the proud owner of a "The Slot" T-shirt.

I'm very sorry to hear your news, and I admire that you are handling it with the kind of grace that Mr. Hemingway wrote about.

I'll be thinking of you and your family often. Take care.

Nick Sheppard said...

Bill you were very kind to me when I was a nervous job applicant at The Washington Post and I very much appreciated that (very being a useless word that copy editors should strike out so please forgive me). I now work in PR for a big hospital in Toronto so I interact with a lot of patients ... always question. make sure you have an advocate. best wishes.

Kristen Stieffel said...

So sorry you're going through this, Bill. Cancer sucks. You have a great attitude, though. Keep it up. I pray that all will turn out for the best.

Jess Shulman said...

Bill, I'm so very sorry to hear this news. Your attitude is amazing. Sounds like you're in excellent hands. Wishing you strength and courage.

You were one of my earliest editing idols; I loved your books and always love your posts. I was truly sorry to miss you at EAC in June, missing the chance to carry on the great debate with you in person about whether or not Denny's is a coffee shop... (is not).

Stay strong!

Kari Zapata said...

Hi, Bill. I ran across an old blog post (10 yrs, I think) of yours a few months ago while editing (what a joke) a paper for my sister. On a whim, I clicked on home or refresh (or something) and learned of your illness. I hope you are doing well. My prayers will be with you and your family.