My New Stuff

19 Oct

Cancer Blog Wordle

In a consumer society like ours, one’s state of being is often defined by the things they purchase, services and objects that they soon come to call their own. If I am on a health kick, I buy my athletic shoes, my yoga mat, my spinning classes, my new clothes for my new body, etc.  When my wife was pregnant we bought all kinds of books, clothes, and classes.  Despite the contrarian claims of my friends who’ve dipped their toes into the so-called makers’ movement, one can really learn a great deal about us by what we buy.   I am amazed at how quickly this process sets in with cancer.  First there was my CT scan, not a CT scan of me, but MY CT scan.  Then there was my spiral CT scan, then my Petscan, and, of course my oncologist.

My oncologist is a lovely kind young woman who has patiently sat with me and explained why, despite the fact that I feel just fine, all of my tests point to cancer.  She will help me fight cancer and hopefully, over time, beat it.  She is no longer merely a Dr. or even an oncologist.  She is my oncologist.  I don’t own her, but I purchase her services regularly, just like I might a trainer, life coach or masseuse.   And despite the fact that I know full well she is not a possession, I cannot stop referring to her as mine.  The original results of my Petscan (see how I did that?) were reported to me by another oncologist.  He was not particularly kind or caring, and I just didn’t feel comfortable with him.  Not until my oncologist called the next day did I truly understand the direction of this process and the likely diagnosis, which I will learn for sure over the next week or so.  Once I spoke to her I called my wife and mother and told them I had finally spoken to my oncologist and I felt a little more comfortable for having done so.  I know that there is a kind of magical thinking in all of this…. MY oncologist! No doubt she is the oncologist to hundreds of patients, there is nothing particularly unique or special in our relationship, but she is part of my new set of stuff, one of the services and things that I now spend my money on in an effort to keep from dying young and somehow that elevates the relationship in my mind.  Selfish? Reductionist? Shallow?  Yes, perhaps, but also inescapably true.

Soon other stuff will follow.  No doubt my biopsy will be next week, followed by my diagnosis, then my course of treatment, my chemo, maybe my radiation, my medicines, possibly my pot if I find that my chemo makes me nauseous, then more scans, my next Petscan, my next prognosis, and ultimately my health, which to a large extent will be determined by all of my new stuff.   It’s weird, I know, reducing one’s battle with cancer to a consumer exchange, but in many ways, that’s exactly how we handle it.  We pay money to people and companies to determine a course of action and then to give us poisons and medicines.  We pay others to take pictures of our insides to understand whether we’re winning or losing, and then, God willing, we pay some hotel on the Central Coast of California to host our first cancer free celebration—at least that’s what I’m aiming for.  It’s all part of my new collection of stuff…the stuff that comes with cancer.

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One Response to “My New Stuff”

  1. kgwalters October 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    Erik thanks for sharing. As others have posted earlier I will be there for moral support. Sending positive thoughts for you and your family.

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