Tempting fate



I don’t believe in a God of Cancer, since I’m still not convinced about a God of Everything Else. I concede there may be Cancer Faeries, or Gnomes or Sprites, because there are moments that seem guided by some outside force other than my oncologist. The mysterious vertigo that led to the discovery of three tiny brain tumours is one example.

A less celebratory example: I don’t talk much about the mouth sores some patients get, because I don’t get them. Yet there I was talking about these painful little dots last week, telling three different people that I have been spared. Within days, mouth sores appeared on my tongue and inside my cheeks. Eating is tough; so is talking. So, I get it Cancer Elves. I will no longer tempt you. I will keep my head down and my mouth shut. Unless that pushes the sores up against a tooth, in which case I will remain slack-jawed.

I do have certain superstitions and I suspect I am not alone among the cancerous. These are small things I do each time I check into hospital, from the practical (my own toilet paper roll from home) to the less logical (I won’t wear hospital scrubs).

The most obvious rule is that I never say “Damn, we have really got this disease BEAT!” Especially before a CT scan.

I don’t talk about retirement planning.

I think happy thoughts during an MRI, so I might give the tumour-fighting residue one last spark of strength.

I often cry during my first night in hospital, especially if I feel I have been a mediocre dad lately.

There are a few new superstitions I am thinking of adopting, such as : No walking under a ladder while receiving chemotherapy.

Just as actors refuse to utter the name of Shakespeare’s “Scottish Play” inside a theatre, I wouldn’t say “MacBeth” inside an operating theatre.

And I will never look into a mirror and say “Tumour Man” five times out loud.

Exit Lines

Something I wasn't sure I would see: Will's 4th birthday.
Something I wasn’t sure I would see: Will’s 4th birthday.

I can’t help but picture me on my death bed (ideally in my eighties) and how that bit of drama might go down.

The good news is, I figured out how to turn it into a revenue generator. Branding! I’m willing to sell the rights to my last words. If the price is right. I’ll look lovingly at my wife and son, smile, and say “I’m going to Disneyland!”

That will confuse Will, no doubt. ¬†Maybe it will be something simpler, like: “Aflac!”

Or, if ¬†Wrigleys is willing to spend big: “Get your skis shined up, grab a stick of Juicy Fruit, I am in so much pain, the taste is gonna move ya!

But just in case I get no corporate takers, I have some non-revenue-generators in my back pocket.

Here are my Top Ten ‘Last Words.’

10. “If I go into a coma, keep taping my shows.”

9. “I guess that really was asbestos in the attic.”

8. “Honey, remember to tip the nurse staff.”

7. “The floating white light isn’t so impressive since they switched to energy-efficient bulbs.”

6. “I think someone in this hospital is trying to kill me.”

5. “Sweetie, I’d like my ashes spread over your hottest friend.”

4. “What was the name of that sled I had when I was a kid? I miss it.”

3. “Do-over!”

2. “I am really, really going to miss half the people in this room.”

And the number one candidate for Final Words:

1. “Did the Governor call?”