Today I had an appointment with my specialist at the hospital in regards my cancer Jeremy. I’ll admit to feeling a bit like this.all of today before going in:
So, I’ve had the results of the last fortnight of scans, swabs, tests, and had needles stuck in parts of the body it’s really not nice having needles shoved into, not to mention cameras shoved up my nose, and down my throat.
Before I get to the results, just a reminder of the background.
The first test I had around a month ago when I was in hospital being treated for my stroke came up positive. The tests then showed the mass in my neck to be a mildly malignant form of cancer (yeah, I’ve no idea how something can be ‘slightly’ malignant’. If I stab you is there a ‘slightly less stabby way of stabbing people?’) that would potentially threaten my life. It’s location in my neck was, and indeed, still is, hanging round my jugular vein in the same way Jimmy Savile would have hung round a primary school.
This has seen around a fortnight of tests since those results came back.That’s blood samples, tissue samples, biopsies, CAT scans, X-Rays, MRI Scans, and anything else you can imagine.
And the results of all those tests are negative. The doctor doesn’t see anything in my results that points to Jeremy being a cancer, just a cyst. Now, two things: having a cyst sitting on your jugular isn’t good and is also potentially life threatening and secondly, the first result can’t be disregarded. Which is why there’s going to be even more tests before a sort of Star Chamber of specialists sit down next Tuesday to go through everything and decide on the next step. Surgery is still on the table to remove the cyst, but there’s a very good chance the first result was a false positive, but there’s a chance it might not be. Hence the meeting next Tuesday.
This gives me a wee bit to grab onto. If it’s just a cyst then removing it is pretty straightforward, and I don’t need radiotherapy or chemotherapy for months, if not years.Now this doesn’t mean I’m better. The focus til Monday moves onto the post-stroke recovery and sorting out the damage to my kidneys which means a trip to the GP later this week, and more X-Rays (this time of my abdomen not my neck) so I think I’m nearly on first name terms with the radiology unit of the Bristol Royal Infirmary.
I’m not out of it yet but I’ve been given a small bit of mercy from the relentless battering I’ve taken over the last five weeks or so. As I sat in the sun waiting for a friend to pick me up after my appointment I saw things a wee bit clearer than before, so that even if the worst result comes back next Tuesday, I’m not going to live as I have before.
And this leads me to close with another quote from the great Dennis Potter from his last interview before his death. I never really got this part until this afternoon. I understand it perfectly now.
We all, we’re the one animal that knows that we’re going to die, and yet we carry on paying our mortgages, doing our jobs, moving about, behaving as though there’s eternity in a sense. And we forget or tend to forget that life can only be defined in the present tense; it is is, and it is now only. I mean, as much as we would like to call back yesterday and indeed yearn to, and ache to sometimes, we can’t. It’s in us, but we can’t actually; it’s not there in front of us. However predictable tomorrow is, and unfortunately for most people, most of the time, it’s too predictable, they’re locked into whatever situation they’re locked into … Even so, no matter how predictable it is, there’s the element of the unpredictable, of the you don’t know. The only thing you know for sure is the present tense, and that nowness becomes so vivid that, almost in a perverse sort of way, I’m almost serene. You know, I can celebrate life.
Below my window in Ross, when I’m working in Ross, for example, there at this season, the blossom is out in full now, there in the west early. It’s a plum tree, it looks like apple blossom but it’s white, and looking at it, instead of saying “Oh that’s nice blossom” … last week looking at it through the window when I’m writing, I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. Things are both more trivial than they ever were, and more important than they ever were, and the difference between the trivial and the important doesn’t seem to matter. But the nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous, and if people could see that, you know. There’s no way of telling you; you have to experience it, but the glory of it, if you like, the comfort of it, the reassurance … not that I’m interested in reassuring people – bugger that. The fact is, if you see the present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it.
I finally see the present tense and it’s amazing…