Apart from FINISHING MY TREATMENT TODAY(!), I had my final weekly visit with the radiation oncologist yesterday. I see him once a week to check the burns and see if there’s anything else going on that he needs to know about. I’m very pleased to say that apart from increased fatigue and a bit of pain, there’s still no big bad side effects. Woot!
“It looks like you’re responding well to the treatment, Mr. Huttsez. Apart from a continued increase in fatigue over the next week or so, I don’t foresee any peeling or other side effects being a problem.” Good old Dr. Obvious was full of happy news. “Do you have any questions?”
“Well, yeah. Now that my treatment is ending I move into checkups every three months, right?” I asked.
“That’s correct.” answered Dr. Obvious.
“Ok, cool. Dr. Lee said that I’d be doing blood tests before each check up. Is that to see if the cancer came back?
“Not really. The blood test will be more to check that you’re producing enough white and red blood cells after the chemo. Dr. Lee will most likely call for a periodic CT scan.”
“Got it. So, when’s the High Five Moment?” I asked.
“High Five Moment?” Sometimes I confuse Dr. Obvious.
“You know, the moment where you and Dr. Lee walk into the room and say, ‘Mr Huttsez, we’ve got great news. You’ve done it! You’ve beaten cancer! We’ve cured you, Mr. Huttsez!’ Then we all high five and go out for Guinness and Bushmill’s, my treat.” Poor Dr. Obvious got this sad look on his face.
“Well, there isn’t a... High Five Moment, unfortunately. Let’s say in 40 or more years when you die, not from cancer, we can say you’re cured. Otherwise, there’s no real way of knowing, I’m sorry to say.” Fair play to the doc, he handled the let down like a champ.
“Alright,” I said after a moment, “I guess it is what it is. Well, I’m gonna choose to believe that you and Dr. Lee kicked it’s arse. I don’t want to live in fear of looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life, so I’ll stay positive.”
“That’s the best thing you can do.” said Dr. Obvious. Obviously.
Later, on my way home, my brain and I got into it a little.
“Well fuck, this is some bullshit. No high fives? Always wondering if it’s gonna come back?! It’s like having the sword of fucking Damocles dangling over our head!” My brain is often hard to deal with. He tends to be a little.. reactionary. He’s also way more sweary than me. “You know what? Fuck that guy!” See?
“No, not ‘fuck that guy’ at all.” I replied. “He just told it like it is. Yeah, it’s very possible that it’ll never come back, but they can’t say for sure. He’s a doctor, surely you’ve learned by now that they hold their cards pretty close to their chests. We just need to stay positive.”
“Ok fine. So you’re saying that we just go along all lahdy da, skipping about like twats as if nothing happened and that there’s nothing to worry about?! Ha! Eat another brownie, Hippie, because you’re living in lala land. There’s no way in Hell I’m gonna be able to ‘stay positive’. They want to check us every three months for the next five years, for fuck’s sake! It doesn’t exactly look like they think it’s gone.”
I sighed. “Chill out man, the three month check up is standard operating procedure. Look at it this way: we found a lump on our own, now it’s us AND a team of doctors looking for that shit. The treatment went well, dude. Why do I say that? Because the PET scan showed that the cancer didn’t spread. The chemo did what they said it would do. This means they know what they’re doing, ok? We’re in good hands, and we have to learn to live with joy and not fear the unknown. If that’s living in lala land, then sign me up. Negativity will bring negativity. It’s like in ‘Empire Strikes Back’ when Luke asks Yoda what’s in the cave, and Yoda says...”
“Yeah, yeah. ‘Only that which you take with you.’ I’m your brain, it’s my favorite Yoda quote, too. Alright dude, I get it. If we stay positive, positive things will happen. I gotta warn you though- I’m pretty sure that I’m gonna freak out every now and then.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything less. Thanks for coming around. Even though you’re my brain, and we’re kind of the same guy. I am he, as you are he, as you are me, and we are...”
“Fuck you, Hippie.”
A brief glimpse for you on how I deal with shit that sucks.
The next time we see each other, I’ll be “the artist formerly known as Cancer Patient” and starting down the road to cancer survivor. I can’t wait.
That’s it for now.
Thanks for reading, see you soon.
“...the unread voice of a generation.”