NPR logo What Do We Do Now?

What Do We Do Now?

The other day, when I wrote about being told for the first time that I can't do specific things because of my cancer, Carol wrote in to say that I sounded dejected. Going back and reading the blog, I understand why she said that. But it's not exactly the way I was feeling, or the way I feel now. There's a sadness that comes with cancer. We all feel it and live with it every day. It also brings anger, fear, sometimes joy, knowledge certainly... the whole gamut of emotions.

I'm actually feeling something a little different these days. I'm confused. I'm not sure what's happening to me, and I'm not sure what to do about it. My doctors have told me repeatedly that my case is not following the normal pattern. And while I'm fine with being something of a medical curiosity, there are some practical problems that come with that. What do we do now? That's not a rhetorical question to be shouted out to the universe, it's a very serious practical question.

The tumors I have right now, at least the ones we know about, aren't life-threatening in and of themselves. But the trend isn't good, and there may come a point when I just have too much cancer for my body to handle. So do we wait to see what happens next? That's never really been my style. Do we start trying to deal with the tumors one at a time? That's what we had been doing. But as the tumors multiply, that may not be practical either. At some point soon, I'm going to have to make a decision. We'll have to pick the next step and move forward.

My confusion goes much deeper. We've talked a lot here about the "Why me?" question. That's not one that many cancer patients spend much time on. There's too much else to deal with. And of course, the other part of that question is, "Why not me?"

Sometimes I stop and take a long cold look at where I am right now and ask myself, "How did this happen? How did I end up here?" I know the basic answers — genetics, and mostly just luck of the draw. Maybe "How did I get here?" is just a rhetorical question. Because I think the only real answer is to shake your head, laugh at the way the universe works, and just smile.