I loitered in my room a bit longer than I ever should have. Well, if I was planning to make my appointment on time. To say I was nervous about what I was going to hear would be quite the understatement. It was nearly 12:30 and I had yet to leave my room for the day. I did not go out for meditation. I did not go out for breakfast — I was too nauseous to eat. I was almost too scared to find out the news, but it turned out I was more frightened to not to know.
As I walked down the street to find a ride, at a brisker pace then normal, I found that Bjork’s song 107 steps from Dancer in the Dark taking over my head. Yes, the one where she counts down the steps to her execution. I was obviously not expecting good news.
I was expecting the worst news possible.
The night before was filled with restless sleep, anticipating the worst. I was sure I had prepared myself for the news, steeled myself to hear the words that would crush my spirit and whittle me away to nothing. But I was utterly terrified of just what my reaction would be. It is one thing to anticipate, to speculate, a reaction, it is another thing to have to experience it. The prior week I keep feeling my brave facade starting to crumble, my sense of optimism shifting to outright fear.
But all of this was for naught as the crippling news I was positive to receive, the one my doctors told me would be a death sentence, did not come. The spinal tap found no occurrence of cancer in my spinal fluid!
As soon as my doctor told me this my temperature dropped and a wave of relief took over my body and I shivered like a 1/2 gallon coffee can loaded with black-cat fireworks. And then the tears started. I had expected them. I have become quite acquainted with them ever since I informed of the possibility of the cancer. Only these tears were quite unlike all the others I had spilled of late. These were joyful tears, buoyant tears, rather than tears like an iron anchor trying to drag me many fathoms below. Tears that felt like I was inhaling pure oxygen as they became entangled in my bread.
I was quite unused to them. Boy were they welcome.
As I said in an email, they were like crying a stream of diamonds. But I was not exactly sure where these diamonds came from. I was just ecstatic they were there. As I have thought about it more, I think they were the fears I had been harboring inside this cataclysmically tense body. And as each one ran down my cheak it was as if they were being expelled and replaced with something close to euphoria.
I say something close, because I am not there yet. While this was amazingly welcome and encouraging news, I am not anywhere close to out of the fire yet. My lymph nodes are still polluted and corrupted with this cancer. Friday’s grand news was like winning a battle where and when the enemy fails to show up or just concedes, to fight elsewhere later.
That may sound like I am making light of it. I am not. It has fueled me with a sense of triumph that will not soon be forgotten. I just know this was a simple battle and not the war. That war begins in earnest Thursday, when they remove these damn tumors from my system. And then in two to three weeks the real fighting begins with treatment, which I will detail in another post, as the pieces are still being finalized. Chemo will not be a part of it, at least not initially. Right now it is totally off my table. I can not go through it again. I just can’t. And while if you saw the state of my hair recently you might say I was making the wrong choice here, my kidneys tell a different story.
While my walk away from my guest house was sound tracked to a song for an execution, Miss Li provided me with a delightful song for my return. And yes, I do tend to think in songs. I returned to my room, sent some emails, went and got some food and then proceeded to sleep for the next 20ish hours — apparently that nervous tension that had been keeping me up for most of the precious week finally joined me in hibernation. A very welcome development.
Finally with this amazing news, I am now more prepared to battle this thing. And win.