Yesterday morning at the VA I did labs at 7am, and met with Dr. Go at 8am. He told me that the cancer is gone. It is not just that I am in remission, but that I am in complete remission. He was happy. He was laughing. It was as if he’d had about three shots of Chinese whiskey.
“You don’t have cancer, Bradley. It’s gone.” He said it twice, speaking with real enthusiasm. I suppose part of it is that he is pleased that he can be responsible for doing successful work. I don’t imagine that his success rate is all that high. There in the office he was more excited by what he had found, and had not found, than I was.
The last time I was to his office he mentioned that he was about to become a father. I asked him now if he had given birth. Yes, he had. He had photos in his cell phone. Maybe it’s what they call a Blackberry. I’ve never seen a Blackberry up close. The baby was three weeks in the photos. In a way, three-week-old babies look a lot alike. He was different, but I was reminded of An-tony, our third grandchild who is three months now but a while back was three weeks himself.
At 10am I had an appointment with Infusion. That’s where I went through the chemotherapy process. One session each three weeks, six sessions in all. The port they used for the infusions is still in my chest. It had to be irrigated. A brief process, and other than sticking the needle through the chest skin, no fuss, no muss. I bid farewell to one and all and went downstairs and out into the cold. In the Jeep I called my wife to give her the good news. She didn’t answer. I called Marissa in Las Vegas and told her the news and asked her to call her mother in another hour or so. I’d had a bad night, was exhausted, had to drive the freeway south and so on.
There were thunder showers so heavy I could not see well to drive. They came and went. In Chula Vista in the parking lot at Sears the rain was very heavy. I stayed in the Jeep and slept for two hours. I was warm, I was tired, and the rain blowing heavy against the windows was very nice. Then I picked up my new glasses at Sears optometry, ran some other errands, and drove south across the border.
At the house, there was company. When the lady was gone Irene told me in Spanish how it had been for her the night before, knowing that I was going to see Dr. Go and that this might be it. I was sitting on the sofa while she was in her armchair. She had been anxious and scared. She had prayed, she had cried. She couldn’t sleep. Now she was praising God and telling me that God had taken notice of me, that He had expressed His interest in me, and that it was time that I opened my heart to Him. Her sincerity flooded the room.
“That is what is so painful,” she said. “Once you open your heart to Him I will be able to say goodbye to you without this pain. Once you are with God, I will be content when it pleases Him to take you. The way you are now, I don’t know how you are now. It is very difficult.”
For myself, I think Dr. Go was more excited by the news that I am cancer-free than I was. There is a certain way in that, from the beginning, I didn’t take it seriously. While the cancer was ex-hausting, and the chemotherapy on top of it was unusually exhausting, there was no anxiety. I don’t know why. There was the rare moment over the last six, seven months, when I felt a fleet-ing note of anxiety about the prospect of dying shortly, but it was rare. The exhaustion was with me for months, but not the anxiety. And then after those occasional moments when I did feel a note of fear, I was aware that the fear was in imagining what the future might be. When I was awake to what was there at any given moment, there was no fear.
I think that has always been more or less the way it has worked for me. A number of good stories come to mind. No fear, just like the bumper stickers have it. With me, having no fear is not a matter of courage. It’s only the absence of fear. It hasn’t been deep. Nothing profound. I like the way I put it to the lady doctor at the VA hospital early on in the examination process. She pushed me to tell her what kinds of concerns I felt, was there a lot of anxiety, was I worried? That I had the right to be scared.
“No, no,” I said. “I think it's just that I'm too shallow to worry about it.”