Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Cancer test tomorrow and as always I’m getting antsy. The last two exams went well; the cancer in my bladder is being kept at bay. I’m doing the stuff I’ve been told to do, going through a big gallon jug of water every other day. There’s no visible blood in my pee, and I’m not hurting. Still, I’m scared.

An acquaintance who might become a friend was diagnosed with bladder cancer three months ago and he’s had a hell of a time, far worse than what I’ve gone through. I fear for him. I am fixating on the fact that my oldest sister Florence died of this kind of cancer a decade ago.  She was diagnosed too late for chemo or even surgery. I’m luckier. The doctors spotted the bad cells in me pretty quickly, and after nine surgeries and three courses of chemo, I might be good to go.

Still, I can’t escape that this sad adventure has taken its toll. I have the impression that I’ve aged fifteen years in the last four, and there have been a host of emotional side-effects. I feel lesser, soiled, and unattractive. There’s a sense of shame attached to the illness, as if I did something wrong and am being punished. I’ve noticed that I’m isolating more and quicker to anger and depression. I’ve been told and read such emotions are standard fare for (I will not use the term survivor, which I dislike) the afflicted.

Hmpf. Afflicted doesn’t sound any better. 

There are a couple of positive things coming out of all this nastiness. I’m writing with a greater degree of urgency, and I’m writing more often. I’ve also found I have to prioritize. I have a hundred books in my head, and most of them will probably never see the light of day; there’s simply not enough time.

I’m wrapping up the sequel to Thirst and starting another project (more on that later), and I still want to write the definitive post-Apocalypse novel. The book on kangaroos taking over the world will have to wait, as will the biography of Joseph Pujol, the Pétomane.

I’ve also met some fantastic people whom I never would have encountered were it not for the disease. The folks at Cancer Can Rock recorded one of my songs and mixed it masterfully, and many others have come forward with good words and good advice. I’m grateful to them all.

So for tomorrow, fingers crossed!

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