In an exam room not much different from the one where the doc told me there was something wrong, my oncologist showed me a report saying that there were no signs of cancer on my CT scan. And the blood clot is almost gone. It's a preliminary test, but they found no signs of cancer in me. I don't know if I'm in shock or what, but I've been numb ever since.
What the hell just happened? Did I really have cancer? Did they actually cut me open and take out my jugular vein? Did they really pull all my teeth and install a hose in my stomach and shoot me with radiation and fill my veins with poison?
Did all those people really call and visit and write to say they loved me and were praying for me? Did they actually have yard sales and rummage sales and fund raisers to help when our insurance was canceled?
Was it real? Eighteen hours of sleep, puking my brains out, swallowing pain pills like tic-tacs? Did I really spend the last six months (minus two days) thinking I might be dead by Christmas? Did I dream all that?
Yesterday at 3:00 I had cancer. Then, by 4:00 I didn't. Or at least none that they could see. What the hell just happened?
What do I do now? SSI says I can go on disability. Should I take it? Should I look for a job? Go on a trip? Write one of those "I survived cancer" books? Do I volunteer somewhere? Do I spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder for fear of a relapse? Or do I treat this like a second chance? An opportunity to get things right?
Something just took half a year of what's left of my life. I feel like it ought to mean something. Like it ought to have some significance. I'm just not sure things like this mean anything. They are just events, stuff that happens. If they have meaning, it is in the way they change us. I wonder how cancer has changed me?
Now that I'm not afraid of dying any more, will I be as patient and forgiving? Will I be as grateful? Will my priorities change? I just don't know.
Right now I don't know or feel much of anything. I guess I'm still in limbo, just a different neighborhood than the one I was in yesterday. In the seventies we had a very corny saying about today being the first day of the rest of your life. Something really big was true about my life yesterday, and now it isn't true any more. And I'm not sure what's more important: the things that changed, or the ones that will stay the same.
What's changed? I don't feel like I could die any minute. I don't feel like there is an alien living in my body. I don't feel like an invalid. I'm not fighting cancer any more. At least not my own.
What hasn't changed? I love my wife and my mom. People care for me. I want to act.
I'm sure these lists will get longer over time, but it probably isn't too productive to dwell on them. Many of my questions are going to have to answer themselves, and many will have to just remain unanswered.
Maybe the biggest thing cancer has taught me is that I am more loved than I ever thought possible. More than I could ever ask or imagine. If that's the only answer I ever get, I'd have to say it was worth it.
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