Tuesday, August 02, 2016
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.
Posted by Bill at 7:30 AM