“As Cancers Go, It Isn’t A Bad One”

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Tooling down I-90 on the way to Spokane, I remembered why I love road trips. The open road, blue sky, fair weather cumulus clouds. The view is always changing, the miles are passing, you’re continuously moving.

Many people find this boring, but I love it. Driving through busy stretches of cities or narrow, winding roads is stressful for me. Give me miles and miles of open road in the high desert and I am happy. 

A few minutes after taking this photo I took a call from my doctor. Normally one does not want to receive the results of a biopsy while driving down a highway in a 35 foot motorhome towing a Jeep at 60mph.  But we had missed each other’s phone calls and I really wanted to hear about the results.

I already knew what they would be. The voicemail I’d received earlier said “I wanted to follow up with you on your biopsy. I know you’re just leaving on a one month road trip and was trying to catch you before you left. I’ll try you again tonight or tomorrow.” 

I knew what that meant. If the test had been negative he would have said that in the voicemail. But he needed to talk to me. So when the call came, it was no surprise.

“The biopsy showed cancer.”

I wanted to know all there was to know, but the next offramp was many miles away and there was no place to pull over. So, left hand on the wheel, pedal down, and right hand illegally holding the phone, I spent the next 20 minutes talking to the doctor about CT scans, different procedures depending on what they show, things that can go wrong. “We have to work around the jugular vein. It’s really not that bad if we cut a hole in it. It’s not like you’ve heard. We just sew it up again.”

Recently, I heard another doctor speak about free radicals and how to extend one’s lifespan by eating mushrooms. At one point he said, “I think we can all agree that the primary goal is to live as long as you possibly can.” My reaction was “No! The goal is not to live as long as possible, it is to live WELL while you can. LIVE until you die. Do what you can while you can; you never know what tomorrow will bring!”

To my surprise, my tomorrow has come.

For me this is an issue with perhaps more consequences than most. Based on my personal and family history, if I live for another 20 or 30 years I will likely have dementia and be all crippled up. Sorry Dr. Mushrooms, living as long as possible is not my goal. I have no death wish, but I hope to run out of heart beats before I run out of joints and brain cells.

For now, my prognosis is good. As cancers go, this is not a bad one. But my surgeon will slice and dice my tongue, and the lymph nodes in my neck, and depending on the CT scans, may do more slicing and dicing beyond that. If the pathology comes back clean, I’m golden. If the cancer has spread, it’s radiation time. Maybe more.

This road trip is coming to an early end. I’m heading home for tests and surgery and to take care of all the things that need to be done before the surgery. And some things that might need to be done thereafter.

Life will change now, maybe more so in the future. But it’s not all bad. It got me writing again.

Now pass the mushrooms.

6 thoughts on ““As Cancers Go, It Isn’t A Bad One”

  1. Ken,So sorry to read this.  It’s Never good to get news that has the “C” word in it. Good they caught it and that they have a procedure for treatment which gives you a fighting chance. Your head is on straight and as you said quality of life is important. I’m hoping for a golden prognosis. Please keep me informed.  Thinking of you hang in there. Angel

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

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  2. Ken
    You remind me that virtually all creative artists do their best work in times of adversity. I admire you, and love your ramblings in 2wastedminutes. This post is no exception. But I hope this is the last one that talks about cancer, unless you’re talking about how you beat it. I want you back out on the road getting fresh insights for your next post!

    Take care my friend. Thanks again for the nice visit last week.

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  3. Hello Ken. We are so sorry to hear your cancer news but we know you are a strong guy and will be ready to beat it. Our best wishes to you as you embark on this “unplanned journey”. We hope you will keep writing as an opportunity to educate your followers. We are cheering for you 🤗

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  4. Ken, we are so sorry to hear this news. No one wants that kind of report….road trip or not. We will be praying for you as you travel this new road though it may be rough, windy and smooth at times. May the presence of the Lord be your guide!

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  5. Man…so heartbroken for you and those who love you to read this, but you are going to beat this thing man. Fuckin thing doesn’t have a chance!

    Meanwhile, travel safe and know we are thinking about you.

    Write when you are up to it…(and by the way, leave it to you to write as good a piece on this subject as I have ever read).

    Your friend…joe

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  6. Ken, I’m so sorry to hear of your cancer diagnosis. Your writing is so clear, authentic and I appreciate what you’ve shared about the journey, your road-trip conversation with your doctor, and the ways life may change for you and Carol because of this. And I pray that the results of the surgery will be excellent and that you can continue to live life to the fullest until it’s time to go. We really never know what tomorrow holds, and you’re facing a tomorrow now. God be with you, give you peace, great doctors, and a good result. Thank you for sharing.

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