The Coming Storm (or Sunrise)

Wednesday I meet with my oncologist to find out if the chemotherapy treatments are working, if all these aggravating side effects have been worth it, if we keep pushing ahead unhindered or re-evaluate our directions and change course.

And a part of me has never been more reluctant to face something head on. I want to keep living my delusional life where I’m riding centuries, running further and faster, and building my body stronger and stronger as if nothing is wrong at all. This is worse than taking those algebra tests I never studied for. Worse than breaking up with girlfriends. Worse than standing in front of a judge. Way worse.

So right now I’m just trying to keep from thinking about it, which is NOT easy, of course. I can’t help but run through a few scenarios in my head, where I’m told everything is going as planned and the tumors have shrunk, letting a wave of relief wash over me. And yet, conversely, I can’t help but consider the alternative too, meeting my oncologist’s poker face and serious eyes as he tells me nothing seems to have changed and this is indicative that the chemo isn’t working and that we’ll have to start taking shots in the dark.

I’m not counting on one or the other, but when I think of the latter scenario an emotional weight comes down upon me with great force. I can’t help it. I can’t fight it back. I get angry. I want to drop my head, punch the table and lash out at…nothing really. I just hate having to face this, having to deal with this as an adult, having to take stock of everything I’ve built in myself up to this point and come to terms that it may be cut abruptly short. I think of all the time and effort I put into educating myself, overcoming ridicule and harassment, building a greater and greater self-esteem, transforming my body into a powerful machine, and feel a great sense of pride in how I’ve worked my way through the obstacles of life to come out on top, by my terms…and then to have to deal with this.

Adulthood was supposed to be liberating. It was supposed to be about everything “getting better”.

But now I look at the young kids out with their parents on a Friday night and I envy them terribly. I want that innocence again. I want to jump out of bed as soon as I hear the other kids playing outside and jump on my bike to join them, neglecting breakfast and a decent tooth brushing. I want to feel that excitement when a friend and I plot to convince our parents for a sleepover. I want to be taken out for pizza and soda, then back home for movies. I want to anticipate my sister’s family-famous carmel popcorn again. I want to worry about nothing on the weekends except getting out of exploring the neighborhood woods in time for dinner. I want so much of that innocence before the increasing responsibility of adult problems creeps in and consumes our growing lives.

Of course, I’m just reacting to the weight of what I have to face now, and these longings are mental safe spaces, memories that completely contradict the reality I’m experiencing, the inevitable responsibility of being an adult. Still, that doesn’t make this any easier. Nor does it change the verdict on Wednesday and how I’ll proceed from then on, which, admittedly, may be triumphantly positive all the same, but until I walk out of that office with a new understanding of my life from then on, I know this is unavoidable and simply have to wait it out.

And that’s all one can really do…just wait…and, in my case, stay as distracted as possible to keep the weight of the oncoming storm, or release with the waking sunrise, from leaving me paralyzed in anticipation.

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5 responses to “The Coming Storm (or Sunrise)

  1. You’ve done an amazing job of surviving and coming back from the surgery. You are exercising at a very high level of conditioning. You are living your life to the fullest, Scott. That’s what an adult does, or tries to do. No matter what the “verdict,” you’ll continue to do that. You’ll keep pushing through, I know, no matter what is said that day.

  2. I’m thinking of you and hoping for all the best. I used to be an oncology nurse for clinical trials of treatments for solid tumors at the NIH. I know something about shots in the dark, as well as the gravity of your appointment on Wednesday. If you need a beer (do you drink beer) with a perfect stranger to get you through the next two days, hit me up.

    • I don’t drink beer…but I do drink coffee! I just might get in touch soon…I’ve been wanting to get a direct perspective from someone involved in the field. Thank you.

  3. Okay! I’m practically living at the Broad Ripple Hubbard and Cravens, happy to buy you a coffee. I can’t go far from my house – no bike, no car. And I can’t make coffee at my house (no stuff), so I’m kind of limited in options but we can certainly meet up if you want. I think your story has dredged up a lot of old memories. Having some pretty intense dreams about my former patients, my former work. It’s strange. Happy to talk about it, or talk about something else.

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