Pragmatism And Cancer: Don’t Worry, Be Objective

I have the dates for the next phase of my treatments. Mid-August. Just in time for the dog days of summer. In Phoenix. Can it possibly get any better than this? I mean, really…

At least it will only be for a week. I’ll be implanted with radiation markers and subjected to a wide array of examinations, consultations and exhortations, then sent home to “heal” before the radiation treatments turn my guts into Gamera soup. Sounds like SO much fun, doesn’t it?

This cancer thing, aside from being a literal pain in my ass, is by far the most nightmarish series of indignities any human being should ever have to endure. Well, except for actual torture, which this dark passenger could be accused of, were it sentient.

I think the fact that I don’t see it as anything more than a malignancy is what helps me deal with it. If I did see it as something I could take my anger out on, my mental state would be far different. Seeing it as a foe, or worse, an evil entity with designs on my very soul, would only serve to enable me, and allow for an entitlement that would excuse petulance and the occasional diatribe. “Why me? Why me? OH SWEET DEMETER IN THE STIRRUPS, WHY MEEEEEEEEEE?” Peh. Who has time for that nonsense?

No, it isn’t anything like this…

It is what it is and nothing more: A disease. It has no more élan than a flu, or the chicken pox. Where it came from is anybody’s guess. Could it be because I grew up in a town situated within 60 miles from the site of the first atomic bomb tests? Maybe. Could it be genetic? Apparently my grandfather, who I never met, died of colon cancer. So, perhaps. Could it be because I lived inside the brown dome of Phoenix for 20 years? Nobody should be able to see the air they’re breathing, so who knows? Could be…

Or, could it be because I wasn’t using my prostate enough? When I turned 40, my doctor told me I should “clean the pipes” at least three times a week, so as to avoid prostate problems. Seventeen years later, I have to wonder, was I lax? I didn’t think so. I mean, I’m pretty sure my sex life has been far better (and certainly more varied) than a large majority of people in my demographic. Whatever that is…

And does any of it really matter? I don’t know. I think I’ve said before that it isn’t fear I’m experiencing throughout all this madness. It isn’t dread, or apprehension. Yes, there is anxiety, because these “treatments” make me feel worse than the disease itself and I would be lying if I said I was looking forward to going under the laser. But I’m not afraid of what may come next. It will be what it will be. I just hope it’s not too bloody painful, because I’m afraid I’ll be a real pussy if and when it gets to that point.

James Bond I am not, but this is what I imagine. Eek.

Should the radiation treatments prove successful, I’ll be happy but somewhat skeptical. That’s the downside of researching one’s condition so thoroughly. I could quote statistics here that would make your skin crawl. Will it be the end of the dark passenger, or will it simply be a hiatus until the effects of the radiation are felt? Nobody really knows, but the odds aren’t really in my favor.

I should reiterate here, however, that I am surrounded by a network of wonderfully supportive friends, family and co-workers, whose understanding and unwavering positivity have buoyed me up during the most turbulent of storms. I have so many reasons to continue my journey through this timeline. There is still so much to learn. So many books I haven’t read. So many movies I haven’t seen. So many trips I haven’t taken. So many moments I have yet to experience.

Those things keep me going. Keep me moving forward, even when my body rebels against the stress of painful treatments and nauseating side effects. I’m going to have bad days. It’s a given. This has become my new normal and I can either curl up into a little ball and succumb to the horror of it all, or meet it like I have every setback and misfortune – with determination to succeed against all odds. Whether they’re in my favor, or not.

This pragmatism has served me well. It will continue to do so. I’m counting on it.

Surrounding myself with talented people and staying busy helps.

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