Sunday, December 9, 2012

Climbing Mount Everest

Here is what the report that Dr. Nelson gave me said:
Interval enlargement of bilateral lung nodules, largest one in the left upper lobe above 42mm in size. Heart size normal.  
Enlargement of bilateral lung nodules.
Result coded as action required. 
I realized today that a big factor in the meeting with Dr. Nelson was her anxiety.  She seemed truly alarmed by my x-ray. The last CT scan was October 18, the x-ray was December 5.  47 days.

I spent much of yesterday selecting books off my shelf to get rid of. Probably around 40 books. And a few more this morning. It was relaxing. Time alone on a project can be very nourishing. Sometimes I need a break from, among other things, other people's sadness.

What does it mean to "never give up hope"? That's the consistent cancer advice. Does it mean never give up hope that you'll be cured? But at what point does hope merge into denial? Maybe it simply means despair isn't good.

I seem to have an extremely rare, probably incurable at this point in time, aggressive cancer. Is it separate from my body? Is it an accident, or wrong? Some Buddhist texts use the word "adventitious." Cancer could even be described as an "adventitious defilement" of the body. But the cancer is now part of my body. My body produced it. Can there ever really be an accident?

I was also thinking of the difference between thinking "as if" you're going to die in a year, and planning one's life around actually not being around in a year (or less). Apparently, neurologically, imagining something is almost the same as experiencing it. Yet, these two different varieties of imagination feel VERY different!

And what about living as if this day were your last? The idea is that you might do something radically different from what you were already doing. But what if it's not like that? What if it's not communing with the lemurs in Madagascar or climbing Mount Everest. What if what you wanted to do was walk around for a while somewhere nice?

What do I want to do (or not do) in the next year? Get rid of most of my stuff? Move to Oregon where they have a euthanasia law? How many retreats? I don't know. The news has opened a box of questions about how I want to spend what remains of my life. The open box of questions feels very freeing in a way. No answers, so far.

Blood tests, CT scan, and appointment with palliative care social worker tomorrow.

Emotions go to my chest in the same way they always have, it just hurts more now.


  1. suv,

    did you hear the one about the hand grenade? Well, sure it blew up the bad guys but it didnt do the hand grenade any good!

    not profound, but the way jon told it to me we JUST CRACKED UP! imagine jon telling the story, barely able to get the punch line out because he is laughing so hard!


  2. I am Jeff Perrin's mom, Jill, and I just read your blog and now I understand, first hand, why my son loves you so. It is one thing to hear him brag about you and your strengths and is another thing to read your words. So now, you have another one who loves you...Me!!!

  3. Hi Suvanna, are you still working on your book? Reading your blog, it seems like writing it would be very meaningful to you. I am sending you lots of love. Noelle