RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
We hear from commentator Leroy Sievers every month about his experiences with cancer. This month, Leroy says things have been quiet - too quiet. Some very, very small tumors are growing very, very slowly - too slowly to do anything about. All Leroy and his doctors can do is wait and see what happens. And all that waiting is starting to get to him.
LEROY SIEVERS: It's the climax of just about every Western movie. The good guy and the bad guy, wearing the appropriately colored hats, face off in the middle of Main Street - eyes squinting, hands poised over their guns, waiting for the other guy to make his move. All the women and children have run for cover. Someone's about to die.
Well, that's pretty much the situation I'm in with my cancer right now. It's in there, sitting on my spine and in my lung. Growing a little, but not enough to raise any alarms - waiting, watching.
I feel okay these days. We've killed a lot of the tumors. Now we're waiting to see what the cancer is going to do, where it's going to strike next. It's not an immediate threat right now. If there's a growth spurt or a lot of new tumors show up suddenly, then we'll react, we'll fire back. But in the meantime, we wait. And that's not easy.
Let's face it, we're trying to kill each other; we both want it over once and for all. I want the cancer dead - all of it. The disease is clearly trying to kill me, and it's trying pretty hard. This feud has gone on longer than anyone expected. So we wait, waiting for one of us to blink, to twitch, to go for a gun. It's nerve-wracking, it's exhausting, it's hard to face the disease every day, but there's no other choice.
I don't think real gunfights were anything like what we see in the movies. First of all, the guns weren't very accurate, and the cowboys weren't very good shots. My great, great uncle was an outlaw. Got in a fight, killed someone, and lit out for the hills before a posse could get him and hang him. At least that's the way the story has been handed down. I doubt very much that he and his adversaries stopped everything, walked out into the street, faced each other, and then had their gunfight. It's very possible he shot that person in the back.
And that's okay with me. I have no problem with a dirty fight, especially the one I'm in. I'm happy to cheat, shoot or stab or radiate the tumors in the back. Go after them whenever and wherever they least expect it. I'm fighting for my life here. I see no reason it has be a fair fight.
MONTAGNE: Leroy Sievers' blogs and podcasts about his experiences with cancer are on our Web site. You can follow his story and share your own at npr.org/mycancer.