…And Schrodinger Wept.

CW: medical/mortality




This is the strangest sentence I’ve ever had to write, but here goes:

Great news everyone: the oncologist says he thinks I have appendix cancer and I start surgery + chemo in two weeks!  **UPDATE EDIT:  Surgery moved up to this Friday, the 4th!**

I have to wryly appreciate the circumstances that led to this being not just good, but fantastic, knee-meltingly relieving news that is going to have me on cloud nine for the two weeks (UPDATE EDIT: TWO DAYS) between now and the time they cut me open.

Nothing’s for sure yet, and won’t be until they get in there and actually inspect things.  But the doctor, who had seen the actual pictures and not just the report, said that the scans “didn’t look that bad” to him.  He also poked and prodded me a lot and kept saying “Good… good… great,” at everything he poked.  The main thing he noted from the scan, despite the alarming way the results were worded (a report which I had access to but not the images [not that I’d have understood them]), was the absence of ascites.

Over 90% of patients with late stage ovarian cancer (mine would have to be at least stage 3 to fit the visuals) have ascites, which is buildup of fluid in the abdomen.  I don’t have that, nor do I have the sky-high CA 125 that an ovarian tumor that large should be producing.  Between that and what he could tell from prodding me, it’s looking like the cancer started at my appendix, which is way more of a No Big Deal kind of cancer.

Still have to have surgery and might be in the hospital for a week or more if they have to make a big incision and take out a lot of additional stuff in my abdomen.  They’re going to start with a laparoscopy though and depending on what they find, might be able to do most of the surgery without a big cut.  Afterward I will have to do chemotherapy, because any kind of cancer needs to be nuked from orbit if you’re uninterested in dying.  But we’re no longer on the “17% survival rate” part of the chart.

I asked my doctor straight up, “Do you think I need to be getting my affairs in order,” and he said “I don’t think you need to do that.”  He was careful to emphasize that real answers will come after they start cutting, but his entire demeanor seemed very confident and unalarmed.

I wish I could tell you how absolutely giddy I am right now, even with all the crap I’m going to have to go through.  Because I’ve spent the last two days being dead-cat-in-a-box and suddenly I am alive-cat-in-a-box, and it turns out that I very much prefer being alive, even if bad stuff is happening.

What I wish more than anything is that I could transfer my current state of mind to everyone I care about.  I am feeling a delicious and razor-sharp appreciation for every possibility of experience that still remains open to me.  I’ll likely still be here when they release Starfield and Diablo 4.  I might still finish that computer science degree.  I might even write another book!  I have options now other than making sure my kids are prepared adequately for my absence (which I am also going to do anyway, because once you have cancer, you’re Schrodinger’s cat forever, both having and not having cancer, and one rogue cell can be a tricksy little beast that sneaks up to kill you ten months or ten years later if it wants).

I don’t mind being Schrodinger’s cat for the rest of my life.  Mostly because “the rest of my life” may very well be a thing measured in years and not months.  I so rapidly and radically accepted my impending death that I am now going to be better prepared whenever it comes.  And that’s something maybe all of us should think about.  I said it at my best, I think, in the closing paragraph of Impostor Syndrome, which I’m still as proud of as anything I’ve ever written:

And sometimes it doesn’t keep going.  You don’t get hints about that, either.  Life doesn’t fit the Hollywood formula; there are no act breaks to orient you, no running times printed helpfully on the back of the box.  So you do your best to line up each shot, each frame.  You make sure that if the shot ends up being the last, it’s damn well going to be bold or bittersweet or beautiful enough to go out on.

3 Responses to “…And Schrodinger Wept.”

  1. Dave

    I go in for back surgery 11/11. My anxiety has been very high for weeks now. I *know* it will be ok, but still…operating on my spinal cord scares the bejeezus out of me. Will say a prayer for a great outcome for you. Oh, and yeah – treated for cancer about 15 years ago and I know that eventually, it will reappear so I get the whole Schrodinger’s cat.

  2. C

    I am genuinely so so happy for this news and this hope. I hope your surgery is the very best success!

  3. Dylan Russell

    Dude in Houston area rooting for my young cuz! ✊🏽

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