NPR logo Cancer Takes Mystery Out of Life

Cancer Takes Mystery Out of Life

I watched the finale of the TV series the Sopranos on Sunday, and I loved it. For those of you who didn't watch, mob boss Tony Soprano and his family were sitting down to dinner at a restaurant. The director did a great job of toying with the audience, making us think that violence and bloodshed were imminent, that Tony and his family would be killed. After all, that was one of the most likely endings, at least according to the countless blogs about the show. And then the screen just went black. Nothing. You had no idea what happened next, and that was the beauty of it.

You could imagine any kind of ending you wanted. Tony and his family were killed just a few seconds later. Or they ordered dinner, and had, for them, a normal night. Or anything in between. I thought it was brilliant. What happens next is a mystery that will never be solved.

Now I sit here trying to make sense of my latest news, and figure out where to go from here. It's a little depressing, and now I understand one of the reasons why. Cancer has taken away much of that mystery from my life. I liked not knowing where the adventure was going to take me. I didn't want to know what was going to happen next. I never ever look at the last page of a book ahead of time. I don't fast forward to see how a movie turns out. I wanted my future to be as wide as my imagination could make it. Thinking that the future was still to be formed, that there were a thousand different paths that could be taken, all that made me smile.

Instead, cancer has brought too much certainty. I have a pretty good idea of what the next two or three months will be like. And I can guess what will happen after that. I realize that the disease will just keep attacking me. There may be brief respites, like the one I just had, but I expect the assault to be unrelenting. I know what the procedures will be like, what the drugs feel like, how my body will react. I know too much. And like it or not, I have a pretty good idea of how this is all going to end.

So I guess that's why this latest news has made me a little sad. My life isn't like the Sopranos. Cancer, once again, is a spoilsport. It keeps telling me what's going to happen next. And I hate that.