Last week, my oncologist told me the results of the latest set of films: I appear to have a cluster of four small tumors on the left side of my abdomen, and one slightly larger tumor on my liver. My cancer is back, and in two places: a bad sign. I’ve started chemo again, and am feeling the usual symptoms, including constant queasiness and others too gross to describe in a family blog. My prognosis isn’t clear, but at this point, the range of plausible outcomes—see how easy it is to talk about the timing of one’s death?—runs from bad to worse. Still, sometimes improbable things happen; the disease itself is example enough of that phenomenon. Maybe my chemo will shrink these tumors, and buy me some time. I hope so, though I don’t assume so—and I try not to think too hard about the “hope” part of that sentence.
That last clause may sound strange, but then hope is a strange commodity. I have heard from more people than I can count that, above all else, the thing I must do (channeling my inner Jesse Jackson here) is to keep hope alive. Don’t give up hope. Don’t quit: battle your cancer as long and as hard as you can, believe that you can and will beat it. Keep hoping and the victory can be yours.