From October 28, 2019
Hi Foxy Friends --
Today was quite a day on the mountain. I had my second PET/CT scan so we can take a peek on the way to the peak -- is this still the right trail up the mountain? What new surprises are in store? It was time to find out.
There is some encouraging news to report, but I'm going to deliver this the same way I received it. The good Dr. C called about two hours after the scan to say this: "Sending the scan data your way. There is mild improvement. We'll talk more tomorrow."
Ok this is where we pause on the mountain to have a quick side-bar on something. Oncologists are absolutely brilliant and heroic and honestly may have the toughest job of anyone we know. That said, for the love of all things holy, please let's all make a law forbidding all oncologists to ever be communications directors, or worse, the person in charge of marketing a new movie. Can you imagine if the ad for a movie was "You'll love it. The sequel is a mild improvement." I mean. What is that?
Anyhow, I've come to learn and appreciate that the term "mild improvement" is cancer chatter for, "Oh this is encouraging!" Or at least that's how I'm taking it. The very fast headlines we can hold for now: no new cancer growth, and tumors continue to shrink.
I get it. Here's what we all really want to know: How much? Is this good, or really good, or just sort of well, a mild improvement? We'll find out a bit more tomorrow. For now, we ought to be thrilled the news isn't in any way bad, and thank our lucky stars that Dr. C isn't in charge of rolling out the final installment of the Star Wars saga.
While we wait for more from Dr. C, here's a small window into how scans work. First, they inject me with a radioactive isotope (I know!). Then a very kind and fast-moving nurse escorts me into a dimly lit room, where I'm told to simply "be" while enjoying a recliner that also has a built in seat warmer as an extra perk. I'm told: Don't do work, really don't even read. Just chill. Be still. For an hour.
And after an hour of chilling/really not chilling I'm escorted into an MRI tube for about twenty minutes of scanning. That's it! Oh and better not to stand near pregnant ladies for at least 24 hours.
A friend today asked me what I thought about while in the dimly lit "be still and chill" room. I had a small notebook with me and wrote down nearly every thought (don't tell the nurse). Foxy Friends, I give you now a stream of consciousness, captured while radioactive:
My job here is to chill
With a radioactive isotope on a little field trip through my every inch
I wonder if I should have watched that most excellent show, “Chernobyl” earlier this summer
Hits a bit closer to home these days
Who else is radioactive
Homer Simpson on some episodes
I adore that Lucy laughs at all the right places while watching the Simpsons
I like to take credit for that. I’m raising her right.
Why am I using this precious time to think about the Simpsons
I never thought of myself as the cancer type
I wonder if Julia Louis Dreyfus thought of herself as the cancer type
She looks better than ever now
I could rabbit hole on this line of thinking for my remaining 49 minutes in the chill/not so chill room
But still I bet JLD and I would be friends if we ever found ourselves in the chill room together
The last season of Veep was brilliant
Nurses are extraordinary
I wonder how many grew up wanting to be a nurse
I wonder what Connor and Lucy will grow up to be
They are both so very brave
I’m so overwhelmed by their beautiful bravery
Lucy’s namesake is from Narnia, because Aslan commended her courage
And I’m determined to raise a brave daughter. And son.
That CS Lewis tweet from yesterday: "When pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all."
I wonder if that’s not everything.
And finding pockets of joy, even inside the storm
Jack Gilbert’s poem, “A Brief for the Defense” … “we must risk delight.”
How can there be delight in the storm
My dad always found delight. Each day.
Maybe it’s from peace of mind
I miss peace
My dad is at peace
Someday we all will be
I asked a fellow mountain climber what they thought about during scans: “Think of that scene from Matthew 8 – when Jesus and the disciples are on the boat and a storm is raging. But Jesus is sleeping. Yes, he calms the waves. But before that. He was asleep. Think about that.”
I can’t sleep
I’ve never been more awake
But the idea of sleep
Yes. It's here.