Every few months, the docs check my lungs and liver and assorted other places to see whether the cancer has returned. Today was my day to be filmed. Film days are usually easy, though sometimes unpleasant: I spent the minutes before heading to the radiology department ralphing in the parking lot. (I’ve always loved the verb “to ralph.” It’s a classic onomatopoeia. I wonder what the analogous term is in other languages—does it have the same sound? Weird the things I think about . . .)
These days, what strikes me as interesting about these periodic films is their utter routine-ness. A year ago, I’d have spent the time between the taking of the films and hearing my oncologist’s report worrying about the results. Now, I barely think about the issue. Not because I’m an optimist—I know well that, sometime soon, the news will likely be bad. The sensibility is a bit like living in a war zone, at least as I imagine that experience: You know the bombs will fall tonight, and you know that, while the odds are in your favor on any given night, if the bombing lasts long enough you’re likely to get hit. Nothing to be done about it, so you go about your business. Is this what it was like in London during the Blitz? I wonder.