I’ve fallen into the bad habit of posting only when I get some cancer news. It’s a hard habit to break, as I’ve got little energy these days for writing, and am trying to spend it finishing a book. Still, I’d like to break it. Soon.
But for now, some cancer news: Last Thursday I had films taken; this past Monday I heard the results. The bottom line isn’t good. All the cancer they knew about has grown. The stuff has also spread: there are now two tumors in/on my liver, and a host of small ones floating on both sides of my abdomen. Clouds and silver linings travel together, and this is no exception: because these nasty things have been growing and spreading while I’ve been on chemo, they’re stopping the chemo for awhile—a month at least, maybe a bit more. That part of the package feels very good indeed. After the break, I’ll start a new chemo regimen—the last one the docs will try before clinical trials, which I’m not inclined to do. In general, the news is mostly bad but partly good. That’s the way cancer news usually works: circumstances could always be better—but, almost always, they could also be worse.
This latest news brings to mind a common phrase: people in my circumstances often say they’re living “on borrowed time.” (Whenever I hear that, I wonder: how do they intend to pay it back?) I’ve never quite understood the metaphor. My time is more gift than debt. Two-and-a-half years ago, I was told my life expectancy was two years. I’m already past my expiration date, with more time—several months at the least—to come. Viewed that way, I’m in astonishingly good shape: teaching this fall, finishing my book, enjoying time with my family. I have little cause for complaint, and much cause for gratitude. So it seems from my world. Even in the wake of bad news.