Well: at least we know what’s causing this, the weight loss and the stomach pain and all that comes with them. The CT scan revealed a large mass in my abdomen that shouldn’t be there and a number of swollen lymph nodes in my groin. Together, the doctor called me Sunday evening to explain, they almost certainly spell lymphoma.
The Big C. The Cancer Club. Gotta say that now I belong, I’m finding it a pretty dubious honor indeed. But at least what ails me is no longer a mystery, and that’s worth something.
OK, there’s still mystery to go around, at least for a little while. I’m getting one of those swollen nodes taken out next Monday and biopsied and until that’s done a number of questions are anyone’s guess: whether this actually is lymphoma (although the surgeon I consulted with this morning explained so even I could understand how it couldn’t really be much else) and if so whether it’s Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin or some other variation and what subtype and so on. Nobody knows anything yet, a nurse friend counseled yesterday when I called to tell her the news. So don’t get to thinking about what could happen. Just don’t. It won’t do you or anyone any good. Words to live by, and I plan to do so while I still can.
Yesterday was mostly about making such calls, or in many cases typing such messages on the net. Turned out there’s a fairly large number of people I wanted to hear the news directly from me rather than read it on Facebook or in this blog or from a mutual friend or whatever, larger than I would have thought. I can write as I did last entry about having a relatively empty life but when it comes down to it that’s probably more a matter of perception – mine, and a perversely self-serving one – than reality. Reality is that I’m just bad at keeping in touch with, or being present in the day-to-day lives of, people even when I share a city with them. That doesn’t mean they’re not there, or have forgotten about me: something I’m really glad to be reminded of at a time like this.
A couple of weeks ago I sat in the Sunday evening worship group I’ve been attending lately, communing with the inner voice that is generally so hard for me to get through to and to listen to on those occasions I do. I asked, What am I to do now? What are my next steps to be more involved with the world around me now I’m finally ready? Answers came back: Be of service, was one. Another: Just be present for and with the people in your life. A third: LISTEN. That will tell you what to do next more accurately than anything else. There was more, and even deeper, but I didn’t write it down and now it’s forgotten. No matter: the answers I did get are a lifetime’s work on their own.
Not that I know how much service I’m actually going to be of, or how present I can be for others, if I’m undergoing chemo. (A likely part of my future according to both physicians I’ve spoken with to date.) I don’t need to know though: just try. Both far as I can tell are essential elements of grace, and grace is what is going to get me through this. That is something I do know.
And if I don’t feel I know enough about grace, there are and will be plenty of opportunities to learn. There always have been, whether or not I recognized them as such and/or wanted to take them. I’ve just… got a little more incentive now, that’s all.
That was my first thought after getting the news: Maybe now I’ll finally develop an adult perspective on my life, on my place in the world. (Yes, I know, perspective and grace are not necessarily synonymous. As I understand it though it’s hard to have the second without the first.) If that is what does come about, then perhaps it will have all been worth it.
Whatever happens, I want to make something good of this. Plan to, best as my so-far limited experience permits. Because really, what other choice do those who want to keep living have?
Something else I want to do: finish The Novel sooner than I otherwise would. Lymphoma survival rates are high (or the ones I’ve heard quoted anyway) but why take chances? I want to write the second Novel too, and the third after that. At least. Really really want to write them. You never know how much time you have is a phrase that means a lot more to me now than it did two days ago.
OK, so. Onward. Get the operation, and wait for the results, and see the oncologist. Then, onward from there. A new phase of life is starting. With it I might end this blog and start a new one, fitting because three-year runs have been about max for my blogs anyway. Something else I do know: I’ll keep you apprised as long and as best I can. Count on that.
(republished from The Sea of Possibilities)