In my opinion. It’s what I think. It’s what I feel. It’s what I think I feel. It may not be something I know, but it’s certainly something that I hope I know. And if it’s not exactly something that I know, then I hope it’s something I believe. Because, if I don’t believe it, hoping might not be enough. And if hoping is not enough, and I don’t believe, then what I think I feel is simply mind over matter. Yet for all I know (not much really), my mind might matter more than any other weapon I have – real or imagined, in this battle, hopefully not ’til the death, against the stage IV NSCLC that has taken up residence in my body.
However, It’s not as if I don’t listen to what my oncologist says/has said. In fact, I take pride in my listening and observational skills, so I think I have paid particular attention throughout this entire process. (After all, my life was/is semi-at-stake here.) Now whether I actually heard/assimilated everything that was said to me by my oncologist is likely another issue/column entirely. Moreover, as much as I know how to focus on what the doctor is saying and to listen carefully in order to ask intelligent and potentially life-saving (at least life-sustaining) questions, later, when my wife and I are home reviewing what the doctor had said only a few hours before, invariably we have different impressions, different interpretations and overall different recollections. Unfortunately, there’s no one really for us to call (who’s available) to review and clarify questions and/or answers that a few hours later are amazingly less clear than they were when we initially heard them. The reality is, there are no do-overs.
As a result, it becomes impossible (nearly impossible) for the patient (this patient, anyway) to be objective about these kinds of life-and-death meetings/discussions, so what words come out, after internalizing everything you’ve seen and heard is, “subjectively speaking.” Somewhere between your best “recollection,” your best guess and your likely most positive spin on a set of facts and/or circumstances which might take a bit of getting used to, or at least, making sense of. And that’s how life goes on: from one unforgettable (you know what I mean; not literally, but you sort of forget some of what you hear), potentially life-ending set of doctor-speak to the next round of scans, always to be coordinated with your oncologist-ordered lab work, followed up by yet another appointment/exam with the oncologist, the combination and interpretation of each will ultimately tell the tale: good, bad or indifferent.
“Good” and “bad” speak for themselves. “Indifferent” however, is another discussion altogether. Looking for the positive, minimizing the negative; this conversation turns grasping at straws into a literal event. You believe what you want and discount what you must, anything to induce yourself into believing that tomorrow is, as Scarlett O’Hara made famous at the end of “Gone With The Wind,” “another day.” One filled with hope and optimism, and one worth living, preferably without cancer. But being realistic – and occasionally honest – with yourself, the cancer is likely not disappearing anytime soon. Shrinkage (of the tumors) would be ideal, of course. But you can live with no growth, too. And as I have come to understand – and appreciate: “stable” is a pretty spectacular word, (my new favorite word, actually). In fact, I can live with “stable.” But that’s just my opinion, unrealistic though it may be.
Kenny Lourie is an Advertising Representative for The Potomac Almanac & The Connection Newspapers