I am a person who tends to live in the present; and it has its good points. For one thing, you generally treat yourself well. If I want to veg in my pajamas all day, I do it. If I want to go to a museum for the day, I do it. It allows you some degree of spontaneity. It can be bad, of course, because you tend to procrastinate on serious stuff. You know, like the day I came home and realized I hadn’t paid my electric bill. Oops.
And I procrastinate on everything because I get caught up in what is going on at the moment. That got me into this fucking cancer mess in the first place. I’d go to the office with the intention of making an appointment, but I’d get caught up in the day and forget about it. This went on for months. I like my work and can easily get wrapped up in it to the exclusion of everything else.
But I don’t have that luxury anymore. Now I have to go to doctor’s appointments when they’re scheduled. I can’t reschedule because I decided that a lunch date in the Village was a better idea. I can’t because, unlike a cold or a backache, what I have right now could potentially kill me. And that pisses me off to no end.
For instance, I am not used to flaking out on business appointments. Now I have to reschedule all of the time. I can’t say, “Can I have an appointment in four weeks?” Usually it’s four hours or four days. People are accommodating and kind, but just the same. My colleagues across campus don’t have the luxury of accommodating me all the time.
And now, when there are aches and pains associated with the Death Star and its environs, I can’t just blow it off anymore. I was hit by a car some 30 years ago now. Back surgery resulted and I’ve lived with early degenerative disk disease and back pain for some time. Honestly, what is a minor inconvenience to me might disable someone who’s never experienced it. I’m used to it and I know how to deal with it. And even on those rare days where it does affect me to the point of disability, I know it’s not going to kill me. Some NSAIDS and an ice pack for a day or two and I’ll be right as rain.
But that I’ve been experiencing increasing discomfort and some swelling in my right armpit? I just can’t ignore that shit. I might as well just move from my quiet and secure haven uptown to Columbus Circle because I essentially live there now. I’ll set up a tent right there in front of CNN. It’ll be me and Anderson Cooper chillin’ in the Circle.
So cancer has thrown me into a new normal. It is an existence wherein appointments have to be made quickly, medicines taken timely and without fail, and where I am forced to face my mortality in a way that I haven’t had to until now.
My surgeon has a manner that not everyone likes. He’s affable and always has a smile on his face, he hums and sings when he’s doing biopsies, he makes himself available, and he answers every question I lob in his direction–but he doesn’t sugar coat the reality of cancer. He didn’t go into some sugary preamble the first day I saw him. He told me flat-out “It’s a carcinoma.” He told me that I have a greater than 80% chance of overcoming it, but if I don’t take it seriously it will kill me.
How odd it is to have something in your body that is actively seeking to destroy you at the expense of its own survival. And unlike smarter germs–rhinovirus, for example–it doesn’t replicate itself for the sole purpose to be transmitted through a sneeze, a doorknob, or a subway car rail. You can’t even chalk this shit up to evolutionary germ theory. No, that would call for some sort of cell intelligence. Essentially, some cell got dropped on its head and started to replicate copies of its fucktard self. Maybe some inhaled chemical nudged it off the counter when it was snoozing. Perhaps it tasted a little estrogen and got hooked on it. I’ll never know. But it’s defective and it just keeps making defective copies. Just living for the moment, it is.
It’s a right-wing cell in a left-wing body. Think about it. It doesn’t believe in any evolutionary theory, it’s paranoid and amassing deadly weapons all around it, it’s procreating with abandon, and it will keep on multiplying and spreading cells until it kills me. And then it will fucking die.
To confront them is an insult to my intellectual and biological intelligence. But I’ll kill them before they kill me.
Sadistic dumb little fucks.