Many Years

For those catching up, I have cancer. Recently I went though a science-magic machine and the cancer in my body was mapped in 3D. After a frustrating delay, I had a conversation about the results with the urologist who had done the biopsy and established the need for the scan.

“As we expected,” he said, though to this day I’m not sure who we includes, “the cancer has spread to…” I won’t get the rest of the quote right and it doesn’t matter anyway. I’ve got cancer up in my shit. My shoulder that has refused to get better? It’s got cancer in it. Suspect vertebrae? Cancer.

Doctor One, the urologist, spoke briefly about the cancer busting loose from the prostate, and then very quickly turned to reassurance that what I was going through was ordinary. Missing was the connective, “You are in mortal peril,” part.

Doctor two, the oncologist, did not miss that step. After a week of relative optimism, Dr. Two set the level. “You are stage four, the worst stage. We are not going to cure you. The goal is to give you more, better years.”

Well, fuck. Stage four. In cancer jargon, that’s when the shit’s got loose. Medically, you’re not trying anymore to defeat the cancer, you’re playing a delaying action, buying weeks or years. Doctor One, the urologist, knew this, but didn’t square up with me.

Of course now I’ve turned to the internet for answers. Everywhere it says, “[people in this state] often live many years with treatment.”

Many years. HOW MANY? Can you give me a mean and a standard deviation? This is really important. What are the odds I am going to retire? I have plans for that. Lots of plans. I know that there is no crystal ball giving the exact date of my demise, but any sort of range would be helpful.

But to all the Muddleverse, I promise I will keep shouting into space for many years.


2 thoughts on “Many Years

  1. Fuckity fuck fuck fuck. So sorry. Being a guy and a (poor) engineer, my first thought is how to fix this. We’re all mortal, but you’re now “more mortal”, which comes with greater difficulty ignoring that Ultimate Fact. I recently read “Michael Pollan: How to Change Your Mind” and the thing that most impressed me was how the terminal patients became totally at peace with their diagnoses after as little as one mind-altering session. It was sufficiently compelling that I’m now trying to enroll in a psilocybin study at UCSF. Something to consider?? At a minimum, it’s a good read.

    Unless you love your job, I’d recommend retiring ASAP, and focusing on everything else. That would have been my advice before your diagnosis, though.

    I’ve found chatGPT better than my doctors at answering the hard medical questions, like the viability distribution. At least it knows when to say “I don’t know.” Often it takes several tries to find the prompt that unlocks its answers, but worth a consideration?

    If you ever need a break from your reality, please come visit. We’d love to host you two, and it’s not far. I had an old friend pass away last year from illness, and I failed to reconnect before they left, and it’s bothered me ever since. Hopefully, you have several years before my regret kicks in. Making this all about me, as we’re wont to.

    I won’t offer you blessings, any more than fairy dust, but I will wish you +5 sigma on that elusive distribution. Hugs.

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