When a computer slows down, freezes, or generally starts behaving in a funky manner, we all know what to do: reboot! Well, this past week Chuck and I have been attempting to reboot our systems. Not because we were freezing up or had a virus. No, our reboot had to do with making some mental adjustments and dealing with a serious case of magical thinking.
Chuck had a six month checkup with his cancer doc this past Monday, and a CT scan and blood test to make sure all was still good. If he made it through this CT scan with no signs of cancer, then he would move to an annual CT scan, which we managed to delude ourselves into believing (this is the magical thinking part) that he would be one step closer to being done with cancer forever – cured, baby! This is ironic because we were told back in November 2008 that what he has is not in fact curable. Even if you go 30 years and die of old age you are never cured of lymphoma. That’s just the way it is. It’s a manageable, a treatable disease. But once you have it, you have it forever. We knew this but had soldiered through so much shit – chemotherapy and all that it entailed, immunotherapy and all that it entailed, evil fatty necrosis masquerading as cancer (haha! surprise, just dead fat!) – that when we got on the other side we had both slipped into a happy place where unicorns frolic, pots of gold sit at the end of rainbows and follicular lymphoma is curable.
So we went to see the doctor after the CT scan and blood work and she gave us the good news. No cancer! Yay! But make an appointment to see me for a checkup and blood work in six months. What? Huh? But Dr. Nade, did you miss the memo? Chuck has been magically and forever cured! He beat cancer! He’s a frigging miracle man!! She looked at us like we were her idiot children and said, no, you’ll come in and see me every six months for the next three years, get a CT scan every year, and we’ll see what happens then. CRASH!! We smacked down to earth as our magical happy bubble burst and we realized something we never should have forgotten – that Chuck has a manageable disease that we are going to be living with (we sincerely hope!) for a very long time.
We took a couple of days off this past week and escaped to Lake Las Vegas to recoup and decompress (it’s hell when your magical bubble bursts). It was just what we needed – an incredibly hot and dry place to roast and sweat out all of our stupidity in peace and quiet. Okay, I’m being hard on us. But the takeaway from this past week was that magical thinking gets you nowhere. Dealing with hard truths isn’t fun, but denying them is worse. The truth (hard or soft) is that Chuck is healthy and fine. And he may be fine for the next 40 years and achieve his goal of reaching 110. Or he may not. And I could be hit by a bus and die tomorrow. The truth, for better or worse, is that you just don’t know – none of us do. So we took a collective deep breath and moved on, determining to take things one day at a time, and savor what’s right in front of us and try not to dwell on what may or may not happen in the future.
I have a feeling we’re going to be relearning these lessons for a very long time.