How do you spell relief? ROLAIDS? Hardly. I spell relief: “Mr. Lourie, your scan remains stable.” News, as I’m extremely fond of continuing to say, “I can live with.” And despite the fact that I’m ending the previous sentence with a preposition, I’m sure you can appreciate how relieved I am to be ‘stable,’ and how amazing it is to hear my oncologist characterize me as his “miracle” (not possessive really, more descriptive). So life goes on, for another three months anyway, until my next scheduled diagnostic scan which this time will include an MRI of the abdomen as well as the CT of the lungs to give my oncologist a bit more information to more thoroughly evaluate my condition/status. Having been there and done both previously, the prospect doesn’t really concern me. Although it’s easy to be a big shot now, three months out, especially after receiving a good report. Perhaps my columns in April will be a bit more realistic — given that my life will once again be on the tomography/resonance-imaging-line.
Planning for the future however begins with yours truly assessing the present and wondering why I was so nervous the days before the scan and of course the two days after, until we saw the oncologist and received the results. I mean it’s not as if my life — and quality of life — isn’t at stake when these scans are interpreted; nevertheless, stressing about it doesn’t help, or should I say, doesn’t enhance my prospects. Somehow, integrating/assimilating the stress and anxiety of it all and not giving cancer its due must remain a major part of the psychological solution. I can’t give into it emotionally and for some reason, that’s exactly what I did this past week. I need to learn from my mistake. Though I’m sure it’s understandable under the death-defying circumstances, it’s not helpful. It may even be harmful.
I should know better, and I have known better; that’s what’s peculiar here. Moreover, I’m usually up for the challenge. In fact, I take pride in my ability to take on the challenge. Heck, it’s not exactly my first dance with the devil so what’s the fuss? The ‘fuss’ is obvious but fussing over things/outcomes I can’t control is not the process that works here. Going with the flow, taking the good with the bad (and vice versa), not putting any part of the cart before the horse meaning: not presuming any negative facts not yet in evidence and most importantly, as the band “Wet Willie” sang in the 1970s, you’ve got to “Keep on Smilin.’” Humor may not truly be the best medicine, but laughing and joking is hardly the problem.
Cancer is the problem, but sometimes the patient/me is the problem. As Moe Howard said to his brother Shemp in a Three Stooges short entitled “Pardon My Backfire:” “Every time you think you weaken the nation.” And though I don’t want to weaken my nation/resolve with respect to my underlying disease, occasionally, as perhaps happened this past post-scan week, I get caught up in my own circumstances and think too much, and lose some cohesion and poise. Neither of which a cancer patient can afford to lose. I know — as a cancer patient/survivor — that if I do receive bad/disappointing news, it will be bad enough when I receive it so thinking/worrying that the news will be/could be bad before I actually learn that it’s bad is a complete waste of valuable emotional wherewithal. Wherewithal that I’ll possibly need later should the news in fact be bad. What my survival has taught me is that even after initially receiving some very discouraging life expectancy statistics for lung cancer patients from my oncologist back in 2009 when I was originally diagnosed, one might still have a future. I’m living proof of that. And it just might be the present that provides the means, justified or not.