Strolling Towards Death

Bob H.

I’m dying.  Yes, yes, we’re all dying, from the moment of birth, blah, blah, blah.  But me, a little more so.  My cancer is back.

I’m not sick.  I have an illness, if that’s what prostate cancer is. Or a disease.  Or a condition.  I’ve periodically read a lot.  Swirls of studies, web-blogs, newspaper articles about treatment, survival, symptoms, support programs.  And then I have forgotten or conflated that piecemeal collection of information and commentary.  I know a lot.  I know almost nothing.  I should know more.  I don’t want to know more.  No more.  At least not yet.

I have no symptoms, at least none from cancer.  Every once In a while I get a twinge.  Could that be a bone lesion? No.  I know it can’t be, because I’ve just had a bone scan, and I’m clean.  For now.  I get a hot flash.  That’s probably the hormone treatment.  There is a male menopause, especially if you are taking androgen suppressors.  Or maybe it’s just a bit warm in here.  The headache?  What’s the big deal about an occasional headache?  Weight gain? Well, I didn’t need to get sick or get treatment to struggle with that.

So I’m not sick.  I listen semi-patiently to the narratives of my cancer-free age mates.  Talk of real pain and limitations and surgeries and rehabs, and I know these people hurt, but will it kill them?  It’s not cancer. I have cancer!  Don’t bother me with your petty aches and nostrums.  My situation is life or death.  But will mine kill me?  I don’t know.  For now, I sit here, still able to work and play and eat and do almost anything a late middle-aged man should be able to do.

When I first heard the diagnosis, I did the usual – fear, denial, panic, focus on treatment, insistence that everything will be all right, we will beat this.  But on the eve of my surgery, I lay calmly in a hospital bed and thought about the possibility of dying the next day.  I might.  It would be sad.  I wanted to live more.  There