Jay Lake: Writer

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[Cancer]

[cancer] Crossing the Rubicon

There are moments in life which you cannot take back or do over. The first time you say “I love you” to someone who has become important. Signing your mortgage papers. Birthing a child. Whatever happens, you’ve jumped, and there’s no going back. Your life will be forever different.

I am coming to see this impending thoracic surgery as such a Rubicon for me. Not the surgical procedure itself, I suppose, but the milestone of passing from diagnosis of this second round of cancer, which has been going on since May, to treatment, which will likely go on through next June at the earliest. Over a year of my life spent on this single, deadly issue. And this surgery is the pivot point.

Things will be different. I spent a lot of time convincing myself that last year’s cancer was a fluke, a one time event from which I would recover and return to the general population of risk, mortality, life expectancy, baseline health and so forth. Now we know my colon continues to produce precancerous polyps, and we have this tumor to take out of my lung, and we have the near-certainty of chemotherapy. I will never return to the general population. There is a new normal in my life, and it will always have me one scan away from very bad news indeed.

Take that sense of transition, and combine it with the usual fears of surgery, and my larger fears of chemotherapy, and invest it all in a Wednesday morning check-in time at the hospital for my nacho-ectomy, and you have my Rubicon.

Life will be different. More different than anything I’ve ever done, in some ways. Yet, as keeps reminding me, I am still me, and I will continue to be me. I seem to be living a life filled with love and madness.

Even now, I have no regrets. Only hopes and fears.

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