A cancer diagnosis brings on an immediate mental fog; a carnival swirl with everything moving around at once.
Do I have enough life insurance? Scratch that, I am NOT going to die. I’m just going to lose my hair and puke for a while. Worst case, I lose the leg. How will that affect my golf game? Can I ask the doctor how that will affect my golf game? Since I am a terrible golfer, does it matter? Do I have enough life insurance?
And how much do I withhold from my mom, regarding the outcome, because the outcome, prognosis, prediction is everything!
Back in June, 2011, my belief that Robin and I were in for a terrible but survivable year was challenged by the increasingly dour parade of doctors who came to see us. Each one seemed more pessimistic than the one before.
They said things like “Treatable, not curable.” There was a lot of sympathetic head-nodding, plus furrowed brows. Finally, we asked, “Should we still hope”?
“Oh yes, hope is… Hope is good. (Head nod.) It can help deal with what’s coming. (Brow lowers.) Some people feel it can affect outcomes.”
That sounds a bit like undercoating on a new car. No one can explain what it does but, hey, why not? We left the hospital before they sent in a doctor carrying a scythe.
After a biopsy, even the Mayo clinic couldn’t answer unequivocally, but the consensus was that I had a synovial sarcoma (a soft-tissue tumour) on a muscle or tendon in my left thigh, above the knee.
And it had metastasized.
That means travelled, and it is the worst kind of travel there is. Worse than a European bus tour with drunken Australians. Worse than a weekend getaway on Cannibal Island. Worse than flying United.
My sarcoma had travelled to my lungs, where it set up six small but deadly encampments.