Opinion: Column: Lost in the Shuffle

As difficult as the last few weeks have been, with Chino's at-home hospice-type care and ultimate passing, and the "Catch-22 A" realities of "reverse-mortgaging" my house "perplexed" by the "derelict" stable/shed on my property, my upcoming quarterly CT scan hasn't even "blipped" the radar. Though it will have occurred already by the time this column prints, it's quite possible, due to the Thanksgiving holiday, its results won't be known for much longer, 12 days in fact, than has been customary. And so far, between my wife Dina and me, none of this has even been discussed. Yet, as I sit and write on Sunday, the scan is on Wednesday, three days away. Close enough to where it should have been front and center, instead of where it's been: back and off to the side.

But so what, really? My attitude is, and has always been, to quote John, a close friend: "It is what it is, and it will be what it will be." By the time I slide forth and back under the CT scan's arch, or earlier I imagine, the damage to my body such as it is – or isn't, will have been done. Either the cancer has grown/spread or it hasn't. Certainly hearing and/or reading results from the oncologist will confirm facts at present not in evidence, but there is, without being particularly negative about my circumstances, an inevitability to it. One day, my amazing nearly 11-year run is going to come to a walk and eventually to a lie-down. And I will deal with it when the time/results come. In the interim, however, this next scan is merely another stop on the less-than-Merry Go 'Round.

I don't mean to make light of an extremely heavy burden that we cancer patients have to carry: the prospect of death. As Lee J. Cobb said in "The Exorcist": “I only mention it in passing." Cancer causes enough internal problems (physically); one doesn't need, if possible – and so far for me, it has been possible – to cause external (emotional) problems as well. Maybe it's a kind of resignation or some kind of accommodation or acceptance of reality that has enabled this one to have lived so long beyond my original "13-month to two-year" prognosis (offered up on Feb. 27, 2009), an accomplishment I am proud to say occasionally has led to my oncologist showing me off to his medical students; his prize cow, I call myself.

Honestly, what's the point, really? I'm only in control of so much. Focusing on things I can't control seems a waste of time and energy. Life is precious. Why dwell on things beyond my reach? Grasping at straws, if you can even find one, is likewise counter-productive. And setting oneself up for failure or disappointment is counter-intuitive almost. Why do that? The cancer is already causing enough havoc in your body. Don't let it affect your mind, too. "Piling on," as the NFL referees used to call this major infraction. Now I believe it's called "Unnecessary Roughness." For cancer patients, doing anything, physically or emotionally, to hasten your demise/adversely affect your quality of life is most definitely unnecessary roughness and should be penalized.

Learning to live with what ails you seems a more prudent plan than "woeing" is me or bemoaning the process. Sure we'd all love to be on the President's plan where you're examined in the morning, scanned in the afternoon and operated on in the evening. But none of us are on the plan and wishing we were, to quote Jean Luc Picard from "Star Trek: Next Generation," is not going to "Make it so." But I can live with that. I have lived with that – for almost 11 years now, and counting. I'll learn the results from my scan soon enough. Good or bad, life goes on. To quote my friend John's daughter, Melanie: "Whatever."

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