Karen inquired, sincerely — not one of those ducks and drakes how-ya-doin’s — about my health, about how things are going for me, and it was with some reluctance that I confided that my October cancer check-up was “as good as it gets”: no evidence of disease. She expressed her genuine delight for me, waved and was off with the usual bounce in her athletic step, her work-out over.
But as I remained to trod the treadmill, I once again had that old frisson of fear over saying (or even hinting at or thinking about or hoping for) words like “as good as it gets.” Am I tempting, even challenging, the fates? Am I putting a hex on myself — rank Indulgence to be smacked down by deserved Comeuppance? I’m really not (too) superstitious, but I guess I’m wary of the vengeance of retributive fates: “Oh, you think you’re doing well? Take this!”
Cancer likes to do that to you, likes to keep you from experiencing joy because it always has another proverbial shoe at the ready. How dare I luxuriate in the good when, for all I know, the bad is but one test result away?
And that’s when I have to tell myself to just let go, to sow reticence to the wind and say: Heck cancer. Just heck it.
When you’re no-evidence-of-disease, enjoy it for all that it’s worth. It is a princely sum and one hard-earned.
When a treatment ends, have a glass of champagne — another bodily insult is over, no matter that you don’t yet know whether it did you any good. You endured.
And when a treatment’s side effects finally abate, celebrate. Despite the seeming inevitability of what my friend Patricia calls “late effects,” mark every moment of your passage from perdition.
They say that cancerians have a higher sense of nowness, of living in the moment, and this is what it means, I suppose: finding, making and taking pleasures in the here and the now. Bad news may, indeed, be but one mere test result off, but don’t go there ‘til you get there. Own this moment, however long this moment might prove to be. And heck cancer. Someone once said that living well is the best revenge.
But when you have cancer, just enjoying the life you have is the best revenge.