Nocturnal battle

Friday, April 7, 2023

Bad friday tidings

"Well in spite of all you gained, you still have to stand out in the pouring rain..." Sugaree - Robert Hunter


It is something I should be very good at. How do you process those moments and days after you hear the four magic words;

Your cancer is back.

Truth be told, I should be very good at it by now, not a lot of people around with my kind of experience.

But I'm not.

The immediate reflex is to call those people closest to you, the ones you think really care about you, the ones that you know really love you.

But many of them aren't real good at dealing with matters of such magnitude, honestly, it makes many people plainly uncomfortable.

I first was diagnosed with cancer at the tender age of 28, lost half of my left kidney in a grueling debacle with an even worse six week recovery.

When I finally was able to emerge from my sickbed, I went to a friend's party. It was a superbowl party.

People asked how I was doing and I told them.

Big mistake.

You see, your fear and emotions come to the fore when you are dealing with existential matters and said emotions have a way of coming pouring out.

You know me. I wear my heart on my shirtsleeve.

The next day the host called and told me that I was no longer welcome in his home and that the first rule is to never poop a party. I had committed a cardinal sin. I never forgot that in the ensuing years. People care, but they can only deal with so much and you are pretty much on your own in this life. No one can be expected to share that sort of emotional burden with you. It is just too much for people to handle. Cancer is depressing.

I have dealt with a lot of cancer. For the next five or six years I underwent about ten more surgeries, having what my late urologist called an "angry bladder." Hundreds of tumors. Tired of the continual stress I found new doctors and became part of an early BCG research study with Joe Schmidt at UCSD.

It did the trick for about 25 years, then in 2010 I found that the cancer had returned to what was left of my left kidney and it was removed. Then it appeared elsewhere a couple years ago, stage 4 in the bladder wall and they wanted to do some major plumbing repairs, removing all sorts of things. Went to both Scripps and USC.

I said no way.

I think you are acquainted with my story. I found an excellent cancer surgeon who allowed me to go back on BCG and I was able to forego the surgical trauma. Hooray.

Last year I was scoped and received a clean bill of health. The cancer was there, in the diverticuli but it was low level.

I had a bunch of tests this week, mostly good news. PSA was low, 1.6. When she scoped me today, she said, "Look at that cancer." I did. The diverticuli looks very angry again. And it is in a very difficult place to reach.

I have a biopsy scheduled in early May. She said I have a very old bladder for its age and that I won't make it to 80 unless we do some serious remedial work on the bladder and prostate. I said, "80? What if I got hit by a bus?" Eighty, right. That's going to happen... She said that she now understood why I was getting so many uti's after procedures after seeing what things were looking like down yonder.

I know I have said this before but I think it bears repeating. Cancer survivors always have an eye on the rearview mirror. You are always waiting for the knock on the door. Why do you think I never wanted children? Would you want to put kids through this kind of stress? On a personal level you make peace with the unknown and take nothing for granted. Every day is a blessing and a chance to create and leave your mark.

Of course, my bladder cancer could once again prove to be low grade and not a big deal. I certainly hope that is the case. It is really difficult to live in the netherland of cancer purgatory, not knowing the hand you have been dealt, one way or another. 

You really have to guard against excessive sentimentality or asking others to be there to give in a way that they are not capable of. Not fair to them. But you want your peeps to help keep you up too.

I have lived my life on my own terms and used up more lives than a cat at this point, when do the numbers finally line up and say, "Son, you are at the end of your run?" 

I guess it beats eating gruel off a tv tray in a group home and staring at a blank screen waiting for the inevitable end. Entropy eventually beats us all.

Would rather go out with a big bang, bring it bitch, I have left little on the table, most of you know that, right? Never ever thought I would make it this far. I think I have taken a big bite out of this life thing.

Anyway, I don't want to get too maudlin, there are a million possible positive scenarios that could occur. 

It's just that I have been on a bit of a bad run and am eagerly awaiting that part of the movie where the jack falls out of my sleeve and fills the inside straight. Unless of course the bastards flip the script on me.

Don't count me out. I won't. And I'll try not to poop your party and feel too sorry for myself. The problem is that one tends to lose focus when confronted with an enemy of this magnitude and the bills don't ever really stop so you can't exactly fall apart. Which is the most tempting thing to do, honestly.

We'll all stay tuned. Watch it blow over and then laugh. 

Kid cried wolf again.


It is that great time of year when the wisteria covers my fence. Some crappy iPhone early morning shots around the garden today.

Appreciate everybody for hanging around.