Monday, November 06, 2006

Move along now, nothing to see here

Sober and Malignant is kind of on hiatus right now. There was so much frantic activity right after Dan's diagnosis that we didn't have a lot of time to reflect on what was going on.

It was when I found myself crafting an elaborate Excel table named "cancer matrix" designed to address all the pros and cons of various treatment options that could be crosstabbed with "desired outcomes" that I personally called time-out.

The simple fact is that Dan has cancer, and he's always going to have cancer. The term "cancer survivor" doesn't apply here in the sense that you "have beaten" cancer by following the traditional stages of griefcancer:
1. intial diagnosis of cancer
2. floundering and additional diagnosing
3. treatment
4. treatment side effects
5. remission and/or "cancer free" diagnosis

In Dan's case, (as we understand it) either you have cancer, or you're dead. We can treat it with chemo and stuff, but this type never really goes away.

But this type of cancer also never gets you really sick or kills you, especially if you periodically beat it back with chemo so it doesn't spread into the bone marrow or farther up the lymphatic system. But if Dan ever gets another type of cancer (or other immunity-compromising bugaboo), it gets a whole lot worse very quickly.

Which circles back to the original point -- cancer sucks. Everything about cancer just sucks. We're tired of life sucking, so we're going to ignore cancer for a while. At least until after the holidays, because holidays bring their own brand of stress and joy and suck.

We appreciate the good wishes and tender admonitions to "not let things go on too long," whatever that means. However, Doing Nothing has always been an acceptable option to us and our oncologists. Yes, there are other oncologists and facilities (the next person who tells me about "John [sic] Hopkins" gets a finger up their nose), but cancer treatment isn't like shopping for the best deal on a car, looking around until someone tells you what you want to hear.

We are exquisitely sensitive to the politics of cancer and the fact that what we are doing now in doing nothing makes a lot of people nervous for a lot of different reasons. Dan's cancer has affected his life, but to date, it has not affected his health. Every treatment option that's been discussed affects both. To us, right now, that's not acceptable.

We'll let everyone know when we're ready to git back after things -- maybe next week, maybe next year.

I should also add a disclaimer that while I use a lot of "we" here, I am speaking solely for myself. Should Dan come up tomorrow and say,"you know, I want to see if we can find someone who'll just cut the entire lymphatic system out, then give me a bunch of radiation topped off with kick-ass chemo, and if that doesn't work, then I can just live in a plastic bubble," I'd say, "Outstanding! Let's go look for experimental Canadian doctors RIGHT NOW! Maybe we can find a drug company willing to underwrite the whole thing! If not, I still got two working ovaries and a 150 I.Q., all the makings for a top-dollar egg donor!"

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