Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pace Yourself, Part 2

So I’ve gotten through the weekend of working at the Awards Show, fake won a few awards, gave great thank you speeches mentioning things my Dad never taught me, rubbed elbows with the real winners during the actual show (everyone is lovely once they’ve won an award), and now it’s Monday, and I’m waiting for an email about my Dad, the Great Stoic Cancer Fighting Cowboy Wonder’s status from his second set of scans, which were taken last week.

It’s Monday. We were told if the scans had good news, we’d know by Friday. It’s Monday. So it’s probably bad news. Maybe not. You never know. A million things could’ve happened. Why are you already setting your meter to Gloom and Doom?

It’s just a feeling I have. I’ve refrained from calling home, because the Great Stoic Cancer Fighting Cowboy Wonder and The Phone Harpy Whom I Love Very Very Much are very particular about how they share news, especially bad news. If it’s bad news, they never call us, they write a composed and measured email. It wasn’t until recently that I was made aware that’s not how well adjusted families do things. Since it’s how Mom and Dad have always done it, I didn’t realize it wasn’t normal.

But I understand why they do it. Because they want to process the news first on their own time, before sharing it with others. Because reactions may range from hysterical to questioning to a barrage of “but how are you FEELING.” inquiries. And they want to make sure they’re okay with how they’re feeling before they face the barrage.


Bellows my father when I’m a tweener who can’t drive and forced to run this stupid 5 or 6K race. And it’s what I’m remembering when I finally get the email:

We had a setback.

Some tumors are no longer visible, which is good. Other tumors have enlarged, which is bad.

So they’re taking him off his experimental drug and starting a more standard chemo regimen. Basically, we’re playing Whack A Tumor.

We are not discouraged with the latest results since the size of the tumors are still dramatically reduced since chemo started last year. Overall I’m feeling okay.

One Of My Smartest Friends Ever Stella compared it to straightening a picture – you try this drug, step back, now the picture’s crooked on the other side, so you go back and try another combination to straighten the other side.


Everything about this particular roller coaster ride has been bizarre. Like there’s a normal experience with cancer?

I’ll be honest, (because lying is stupid and takes too much energy to keep up), and I’ll say, speaking strictly for myself, when we first heard that Dad had Stage IV colon cancer, I immediately assumed he had less than a year. That’s what Stage IV to me means. The only person I know who’s survived Stage IV cancer of anything is failed presidential candidate Herman Cain, and double irony, he’s a Stage IV colon cancer survivor. I remember telling everyone that there was no way that Herman Cain was in complete remission from Stage IV colon cancer, no matter what he was telling the press, because it was all coming from him, not his doctors, and it turned out not to matter in the long run as Herman’s lies did him in faster than any cancer could (again, lying is stupid and takes too much energy to keep up.)

But the first set of scans showed such remarkable progress with Dad that maybe it WAS possible, maybe Dad’s got a lot longer left, maybe Herman Cain will live FOREVER.

But now these second set of scans have come through, and “it’s a setback”, but “we are not discouraged.” And I’ve got whiplash. He’s dying. No, he’s not. He had a setback, but we’re not worried. He’s dying. We’re ALL dying. Every day we wake up is a step closer to our death. Chew on THAT.


The one thing my Dad taught me, albeit through mortification and embarrassment.

It’s useless to think he’s dying tomorrow. It’s useless to think he’ll make it to complete remission. Everything I thought I could think, everything that I thought I could feel, everything that I thought I could know, usually has been torpedoed by the next newsbrief. Nothing is for certain, and the best way to deal with it is to thank God for each day that he’s alive (and quite candidly, he’s in great shape so far. Fuck, did I just jinx myself there?)

Treat him like he’s normal. It’s the only thing I think I can do.


Yeah. I get it now.

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