Since we live in the RV and our legal domicile is in Texas, we had three trips to Livingston planned around filling prescriptions, visiting doctors and dentists, and renewing vehicle registrations. I had noticed a small cyst under the base of my tongue and asked our general practitioner for a referral. She sent me to an ear | nose | throat (ENT) doctor in College Station, TX, and with one look he told me that the small lump “does not look good.” I realize now he knew and was preparing me for the biopsy results.
Still, however, there is nothing that can soften the words:
I am sorry to tell you this, but it’s cancer.
I felt for the doctor, he was obviously a little bit uncomfortable telling me. I’m sure that giving that sort of news to someone is probably the least rewarding thing about practicing medicine. I was a supervisor for over 40 years and firing someone never got any easier, but I can’t imagine what it’s like telling another person they have cancer.
Then again, I had no idea what hearing it was like either.
The ENT had contacts at MD Anderson Cancer Center and he scheduled an appointment for the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. I have had an MRI, CT, PET, ultrasound, and full mouth x-ray. I had no idea there were so many ways to look inside a person. MD Anderson is supposed to be the best there is, and I believe it.
I usually don’t share this unless it’s pertinent to the conversation (and it rarely is), but I don’t drink alcohol because for many years I drank enough for two or three people. In 1996, my employer invited me to meet with a counselor as a condition of continuing my employment, she encouraged me to visit a 12-step program, and the rest, as they say, is history.
It’s not that I would have one-too-many cocktails, either, I once tried washing windshields at stoplights in Seattle, but the long-term career prospects just weren’t there. That I made it back to a reasonably successful career in facilities management is a mixture of luck, synchronicity, and the benevolence of God. Mostly the latter.
I don’t think She would bring me this far to let a few rebellious cells get in the way.
I have practice with taking life one day at a time, and I’ve learned to listen to the experience and hope of people who have been through what I’m going through. I’m blessed to have real tools that help, along with the prayers of many. Most importantly, my wife and best friend ElizaBeth and the family are by my side as are many, many friends.
I have known people with medical issues that write about every detail, and others who keep the details private. It is, after all, an individual choice. As is usually the case with me with most things these days, I fall in the middle. I’ll be providing general updates as treatment progresses.