It wasn’t exactly “Executive Clemency.” There was no call from the Governor at 11:59 p.m. There was simply an enthusiastic greeting from my oncologist at 10:10 this morning supported by a widely-grinning, crinkle-eyed smile. When you’re sitting in an oncologist’s office anxiously awaiting the results of your most recent CT Scan, there’s nothing more uplifting – especially for a “terminal” patient, one who could be characterized as living on borrowed time, considering my original prognosis in February 2009: “13 months to two years” – and life-affirming, than good news, make that great news, from the doctor that figuratively speaking, holds your life in the palm of his hands (actually, it’s digital imagery on a computer screen).
And so I’ve received another reprieve, not because of any petitions I’ve written or had signed, but presumably due to changes in my diet and lifestyle that have contributed to a healthier mind and body. Not that I have the keys to the kingdom – so to speak, but my oncologist was extremely complimentary – and reassuring, in an indirect kind of way when he said, in response to one of my questions: “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it. And if I knew what you were doing, I’d tell all my patients to do it. You’re doing really, really good.” (Yes, he used two “reallys.”) This was news (words) with which – as I’m fond of saying, I could live. Duh!
Moreover, for a stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer patient who was originally advised to “maybe take that vacation you’ve always dreamed of” by this same oncologist after he delivered the heart-stopping, jaw-dropping, life-ending diagnosis/prognosis four-plus years ago, receiving this kind encouragement (inexplicable almost and not typical) is as good as it gets. Not that I’m still living to spite him or prove him wrong, hardly; I’m just happy to be a success story for all concerned. And to be honest – and selfish, making my oncologist happy makes me happy, and I need to be happy. I’m proud to be his patient and prouder still to have persevered the way I have and not given in or up. To rework a quote from “Forest, Forest Gump”: Cancer is what cancer does: it’s a killer.
Apparently, not in all cases; at least not yet, anyway. I’m living proof (living being the operative word) of that. Still, as those of us living this cancer nightmare know, there are no guarantees, only definite maybes; which to quote Hubert H. Humphrey, the 38th Vice President of the United States, “I’m pleased as punch” to continue to receive, realistically understanding my situation.
No one said this cancer thing was going to be easy and other than watching Game Six of the 1986 World Series between my beloved Boston Red Sox and the hated New York Mets, specifically the 10th inning, it’s been the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to endure. In fact, “easy” is the absolute last word I’d use to describe it.