Slower Than a Speeding Bullet

19 Oct


Slower Than a Speeding Bullet


In the summer of 2000 we were certain that my wife (Amy) had cancer.  Her red blood cells were odd, misshapen, enlarged.  Prior to a visit to a hematologist, we googled her symptoms and discovered that the only possible explanation for this anomaly was multiple myeloma, a deadly and disabling cancer of the bone marrow.  We cried, travelled to the Central Coast of California and drank wine to excess, and then went to our appointment with the hematologist.  Immediately he explained to us that Amy could not possibly have cancer, her platelet levels were fine, and platelets take a nose dive when you have multiple myeloma.  There was one more thing he wanted to test for, but it wasn’t cancer.  On our second appointment he told us that my wife was a carrier of a potentially dangerous genetic defect that caused misshapen blood cells, but that she did not, in fact, have the condition herself, nor, thankfully does our daughter.  “You dodged a bullet,” he said.  And happily we left his office never to return.  Years later, a bizarre reading of a mammogram led to another cancer scare.  Again, certain of her diagnosis, we reasoned that this was likely beatable and treatable and we were ready for whatever might follow.  On closer inspection, all turned out to be fine.  Again, another bullet dodged.

 And so there’s a certain unsettling irony in my recent cancer diagnosis.  This time we were certain that I did not have cancer. I have no symptoms, no night sweats, no fatigue or weight loss (I weigh a lusty 220 pounds on a 5’8’’ frame)….no nothing!  But one night this past September I found myself in the emergency room in excruciating pain.  It turns out I was suffering from a kidney stone (my first), but the emergency room Dr. saw something in the CT scan used to locate my stone….something big and in my chest.  Subsequent scans identified the growth as a cyst, problem solved, no cancer!  But the CT revealed enlarged nodes and an enlarged spleen, and so more tests.   Then, Wednesday afternoon a young Dr. called and told me the previously diagnosed cyst was likely not a cyst at all, but rather cancer, likely lymphoma, and I would require a biopsy.  The bullets just keep flying, and while my wife has the skill and dexterity to dodge them, I am slower moving, less agile, and seem to have caught one right in the lymph node.  Bastards!

I am not sure what the purpose of the blog will be.  I have tried to blog in the past and have lacked the stick-to-it-tiveness required to fashion a consistent and meaningful blog presence.  Also, I am not sure I want to bore the world with the well-known tales of hair loss, nausea, fear, and, God willing, triumph, that form so many popular cancer blogs.  Perhaps I am just talking to myself, here, to be comforted by my continued ability to communicate clearly in the written form, and to use that as some kind of gauge for my health and happiness.  I simply don’t know.  I just know that right now I want to write and to do so publicly.  To share my stories and see if they resonate and what they generate.  


28 Responses to “Slower Than a Speeding Bullet”

  1. Diana October 19, 2013 at 2:45 am #

    Fucking bastards. I send good thoughts to you — healthy thoughts.

  2. cahwyguy October 19, 2013 at 2:47 am #

    I’m listening, my relatively new friend :-). Fight the good fight, and know your friends are here for you.

  3. Ed Wynne October 19, 2013 at 3:21 am #

    Let the prayers begin …

  4. marvamoondanceMarva October 19, 2013 at 5:10 am #

    I am honored to read whatever you want to share, be it vomit or victory! There are many, me among them, who like, admire and will listen (and occasionally give opinions). You are in good hands in that regard.

    אֵל, נָא רְפָא נָא לָהּ


    • erikgreenberg October 19, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

      Thanks, Marva. I hope to hold back on the vomit.

  5. Lina del Castillo October 19, 2013 at 7:08 am #

    Oh, Erik. Thinking of you in these difficult times. Sad to hear the news. This is no easy battle. Reading your thoughts and reflections inspired me to enlist as support troops. Sign me up, for what you, Amy & Emma may need. Much love, Lina

  6. Chrisi Bonchick October 19, 2013 at 7:14 am #

    Thankful, it was found.
    Sad, that dodging and weaving did not occur.
    Hopeful, that mental agility will serve you well.
    Sincerely, scared for you all.
    Wishing, you healing.
    Sending, you our love.

  7. Brian Mott October 19, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    Erik: Susan and Brian’s wedding pal here. I know every cancer is different, but I wanted to make sure you heard my story, which is one of survival and thriving. Chemo and radiation cleared my cancer. I’m more than 3 years clean now. (I had squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus.) So success is out there! Wishing it for you and your family.

    • erikgreenberg October 19, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

      Brian, thanks for sharing your story and your encouragement.

  8. Jeanbscott October 19, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    Erik – sending you love and light and all the prayers I can today and everyday to you and to your family and support network. I am a two time cancer survivor (ten years out from uterine cancer). Writing and talking helps. So do tears and reflection and solitude. You will need different tools for different days. Use them all – and know that there are many people, close friends and acquaintances who will offer their hearts and arms to hold you in your sorrows and your triumphs. Count me among them.

    • erikgreenberg October 19, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

      Wow, Jean, thanks for sharing your story with me and for your encouragement.

  9. Crystal Robbins October 19, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    Erik, friend of the heart, chosen family, please know that Jim and I are here for you and Amy and Emma. We love you and will help in any way we can, starting with prayer, petition, rain dances, good vibrations, whatever.. Please do share, do write, do reach out for support because you will find yourself surrounded by love! We share in your sorrow at this news, but we are thankful in advance at the strength and buoyancy with which you will navigate it.

    • erikgreenberg October 19, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

      No sorrow, Krystal. Surely no need for that. Keep things in perspective.



      • Crystal Robbins October 19, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

        Absolutely! Did I tell you that your sonnet last weekend was my favorite of the evening’s performances? Deeply moved.
        “Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
        Like to the lark at break of day arising
        From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;. . . ”


      • erikgreenberg October 20, 2013 at 2:09 am #

        Very sweet of you, Crystal. Haply I thought on Amy and Emma and all of my very dear friends. I will be calling on you for sure.


  10. Marlene Head October 19, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    Erik, this is such stunning news. You know where my office is. Free hugs anytime.

  11. Bill Zito October 19, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    What are our travels without the desultory detour?
    You got this, man…and we got you.

  12. Kathleen Ross-Allee October 21, 2013 at 4:00 am #

    I am listening. Let me know if we can help in any way possible…

  13. Bill Waldman October 21, 2013 at 6:52 am #

    Eric – so sorry to hear your news. My family has had it’s bouts with lymphoma. My Dad was diagnosed in 1960, undergoing surgery and subsequent radiation therapy. He passed away in 1999 at age 90. Praying for the same recovery for you.

    • erikgreenberg October 21, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

      Thanks, Bill. You’re setting the sites pretty high, but I’ll aim there,too!

  14. Laura Wynne October 21, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Erik, thoughts with you and Emma & Amy. It is a terrible circumstance that has led you to blog (again but I bet you stick with it) but I have found that the toughest times in my life that are now behind me have very little records around. Mainly just my inner scars but how did I get through those, I am not sure. This record will help in more than just sharing but actually document tidbits and milestones and you will be able to look back at rough days and less than rough days and I bet it will help you, Amy and many others keep things in perspective. Positive thoughts daily for you and many others.

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