Cancer 4

Cancer is a mind fuck.

I mean, it’s a body fuck too, obviously, but the early experience for me has been of weird gyrations of mental health and mood with each passing day.

The first thing I did was the first thing everyone does – look up all the different probabilities of five year survival, because that’s what is at the top of the Google search.

With a stage two diagnosis (hard to know if that’s actually what I have, though) Google says I have a 10% chance of dying over the next five years.

That feels like… a lot? A scary amount.


But wait, here’s a fact – my odds of dying just in the ordinary course of affairs over the next five years are about 4.5%.

Does that stop me from being 1000% more terrified, on a daily basis, since receiving my diagnosis? No it does not.

A good deal of that terror, I think, is that cancer promises a patient a long and painful interaction with a medical system that has only destructive rear-guard actions at hand to stop it. Cut things out; kill it with poison; zap it with radiation. These procedures all leave a body worse for wear, and if they don’t work… they bring you back and do some more of them.

My great grandfather died while rolling a ball on the lawn bowling green in his late 80s. Massive stroke, he died doing something he loved and was dead before he hit the ground. Floyd Ramsey hit the mortality jackpot.

Naturally, I would also like to hit that jackpot. Cancer says, “not so fast, you might have a different life experience ahead of you”.

It would be a little too pat to say that getting a diagnosis starts you off on the stages of grief, because that implies some orderly process to the mental evolution. I am not progressing linearly through the stages of grief, so much as visiting them randomly, over and over, in an emotional shuffle mode.

Some days are denial days. Some days are acceptance days. Some days are bargaining days.


I told my councillor last week that “I only feel OK to the extent that I am dissociative”, and that seems to still hold true. I am at my most together when I have fully distracted myself from the diagnosis. I’m not sure if this counts as “taking one day at a time”. Probably not.

Talk to you again soon, on the other side, inshalla.