Cryptic? Hardly. Words I can live with the for the next three months until my next CT Scan? Absolutely. I’m going to stop now before I make this initial paragraph a priceless MasterCard moment. What this column is about, however, is an update about the good-make-that-great news I received electronically from my oncologist late Friday afternoon, two days after I had completed my most recent CT Scan, and a full week before our next face-to-face appointment, when the scan results both good and bad are typically shared and discussed. And though my oncologist understands and appreciates – per last week’s column – that waiting is excruciating for the patient/survivor; his fear of providing misinformation and/or misinterpreting the radiologist’s report, and in turn my overreacting to one or the other, accounts for the timeline that probably doesn’t suit either one of us.
Nevertheless, it is what it is, it’s what it has been and I doubt, living into the future, it will be any different. Writing a column or two about its drag on my coefficient is healthy enough, I suppose (better to get it out than to keep it in, the mental health professional might say). But I’m guessing the correlating/paralleling universe might be that obsessing/“compulsing” over something I can’t change is likely not good for this soul or psyche either. And if there’s any substance to the anecdotal claim that cancer patients/survivors who can eliminate some stress from their lives will have a better outcome/longer life, then the sooner I understand and accept control and/or lack thereof, with respect to my treatment/process/overall cancer experience (maybe a few other areas, too), the more rewarding my future will be. As Clint Eastwood said near the end of Magnum Force: “a man got to know his limitations,” so too must a patient know and accept his.
I likely can’t change how and when my doctor communicates to/with me, though. He has procedures; I have mine. He has rules, preferences, timelines, etc. As the patient, I would say mine are probably different. As to the oncologist who has kept me alive six-years-going-on-seven after originally giving me a “13-month to two-year” prognosis, my reply to his e-mail was more wordy: “Thank God and thank you! Now we can relax a little bit until we see you at our next appointment on the 24th.” To say we’re looking forward to that next appointment would be a bit naïve. Still, we’re not in fear for our lives, as sometimes has been the case.
Once in-office, we’ll look at the computer and compare the two previous scans, and likely evaluate and discuss the past, present and future. These meetings are as much about strategy as anything else. I certainly don’t expect any guarantees, nor do I expect any warm and fuzzies. I’m sure he’ll be smiling as will we, and be grateful as well, for our amazing good fortune. Nevertheless, this is an extremely serious business with an unpredictable outcome. Moreover, as much as I appreciate MasterCard’s “Stand Up To Cancer” campaign; being a cancer patient is hardly priceless. In fact, it’s all it’s cracked up to be. That being said, when the three words typed in your e-mail subject box are the title of this column, for the moment, all is right in your world – until the next scan of course, three months hence. It’s a cycle of loom for sure, but it sure beats the gloom it could have otherwise been.