Kevin's Dead Cat

After surgery sliced off an entire tumor and 1/3 of my tongue, plus six weeks of radiation therapy, I've been re-learning how to eat, drink, and talk with my newly re-constructed tongue and coping with side effects. But the cancer came back and I don't know what's going to happen next.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I don't want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

I'd like to exchange my denial for some enlightenment,... please?

While I was in the exam room waiting for Dr. Blackwell, his nurse, Lydia, came by for a little chat. She's the one who told me during my last visit that I was the doctor's first off-campus patient. She had gone through radiation treatment herself six years ago. Her throat is always dry because they zapped all her salivary glands and she can't taste a damn thing anymore. "But, you know," she shrugged. "You do what you can to enjoy life."

Lydia is Filipina as well, I suspect in her late 50s, and we're about the same height. They didn't slice her up, she went straight to radiation treatments. I told her that a couple of my salivary glands weren't getting zapped, and that they expected my sense of taste to come back in a few months. She nodded her head as she admired Dr. McNicoll's handiwork on the side of my neck. "I couldn't even tell. The swelling is going to go down, and then-" she swatted the air and smiled.

A few minutes earlier, I overheard Dr. Blackwell talking to another patient. I don't want to get anyone in trouble by getting into specifics, but let's just say it wasn't good news. Basically, she could skip treatment and live another six months, or take treatment and MAYBE double the time left.

Up until today, I'd been avoiding making eye contact with the other patients in the Radiation/Oncology waiting room. I didn't think of it as being rude, more like I only had 6 weeks of treatments so why develop attachments?

I could tell some of them had known each other for a while since they were talking about relatives, work, and a lot of personal stuff. Or maybe they'd just met but didn't have intimacy issues. I just keep my face buried in a magazine or my Blackberry until my name is called, then make a beeline for the elevators once I'm done.

There's a woman who wears a short, red wig who's being treated for breast cancer. She's probably no more than 10 years older than me and she's really beautiful. I see her every day, I even know her name. She's always friendly with the newbies. Last week, she was so focused on comforting a patient that she didn't hear her name called over the intercom. I said hello to her today on the way out.

Then I went to my car and cried for a few minutes.

A lot of things in my life have changed in the past 4+ months. Why haven't I? I've been waiting for the epiphany. But... nothing.

I don't know what any of this means. Maybe it's not supposed to mean anything. Maybe we're supposed to just richochet through life, take our chances with whatever or whoever we collide against, then die. (sigh) But I kinda believed that before.

Screw it. I've gotten by pretty alright so far on "Be happy, try not to hurt anyone, and hope you fall in love".


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