Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 6 (Part 2 of 2, read second)

On the flight home, everything got quiet. The sea of clouds below mesmerized and reminded me that in this moment, everything is OK. My lungs look like shit on a nuclear medicine scan, in my opinion, full of cancer. But right now, everything is quiet.

An interesting philosophical issue came to mind, if you’re reading this, you’re welcome to come over sometime and discuss over some good food and wine. Is it possible to come face to face with your mortality? What does it mean to say “I’ve come face-to-face with my mortality” or “I believe or know that I’m truly going to die someday”. To me, we must always be weary of delusions and try to the best of our ability to use our minds and hearts to discover what is true. At this point, besides the fact that it is an interesting question, I’m more interested in what happens after the sense of stillness, after the time when the mind quiets down. Looking out at the clouds I begin to hear my endocrinologists assurances that people “live up to 20 years” with lung nodules like mine. Sometimes, they don’t exactly quantify the 20 year thing, but it has certainly been mentioned on multiple occasions and I have to say that it is pretty uncomfortable this whole “up to 20 years” comment. Maybe uncomfortable isn’t the right word, but it certainly makes me want to plan a bit for that 20 years.

Do I really want to spend 2 more years in med school then 3-5 in residency? Is it worth it? Would I rather commit myself to being a full-time father and husband and part-time cancer researcher? What about full-time father and husband and part-time writer or activist? But then again, two things seem to be true in this situation. 1. No one can say that I will die from thyroid cancer and 2. I may never get better, ie, my lungs may always have tumor in which case, we can try and make reasonable predictions for my life expectancy.

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I wrote the above on the airplane. When I got off I had a message with the results of the scan (you should read part one first). The nodule is in my 5th thoracic vertebrae. In addition, multiple, diffuse nodules throughout both lungs, multiple mediastinal lymph nodes, and a few lymph nodes under my jaw. These all have cancer in them. Right now, I'm home and am coping. I should know more tomorrow.

5 comments:

wendy said...

Dan, You are a fighter and fighters win... at one point when I was pregnant with T. They told me he may not survive birth, He is 21 now..Live, Bike, Love.... Not necessarily in that order

Black Matt said...

It goes without saying (even though I'm about to say it), that I have enormous respect for you and the way that you seem to be able to deal with such horrific circumstances. If there is ANYTHING Lizz or I can do for you, do not hesitate to ask. Babysitting, social take your mind off it time, anything we can do for support; we're there for you. I wish you all the best and am sure that you will keep fighting regardless of the outcome.

lthake said...

Dan, John and I are humbled by your writing and depth of sharing. You have been in our thoughts nonstop for the past week. I'm so glad you're back in Maggies arms, with Cassidy in your arms where you belong. I keep coming back to a Springsteen song off The Rising. The chorus is: May your strength give us strength, May your faith give us faith, May your hope give us hope, May your love bring us love. XO Laura & John

Mason Storm said...

Dan,
Katie and I have been thinking about you all week, and we are glad you are now home with your family. Just like Mr. James said if there is anything Katie and I can do for you and your family don't hesitate to ask. You are the strongest /most passionate person I know and I am proud to call you my friend. Now snap some wrist homey!

Black Matt said...

Just move back to St. Louis, fuck the rest of it. Family and friends fill in all the gaps, at least as much as possible. We're all here for you.