Opinion: Column: The Weak Of

Concerning the three "weaks" during which this arc will publish: last week's "The Weak Before," this week's "The Weak Of" and next week's "The Weak After," this week's "The Weak Of," when I actually lie down for my bi-monthly CT scan (and as it coincides occasionally, my semiannual brain MRI), is the easiest.

The worry of its occurrence is over, since I'm on site and "gowned up" waiting to hear my name called. And the worry of the results has not yet seeped in because the scanning process has barely begun and nothing will happen and/or be expected to be communicated in the next few days anyway.

Next week – when I know the results are somewhere, and I've not received any feedback from my oncologist, within five days or so – is when I'll begin to stress for all the reasons with which you regular readers are familiar.

What this "The Weak Of" means to me is progress. And even though that "progress" could mean disappointing news, it could also mean that my status is quo.

And as difficult as hearing that the CT scan showed growth and/or the brain MRI showed something more, at least we'd gain some knowledge that we didn't have previously, and that new knowledge will be crucial as new treatment options are considered.

However, it's not as if I feel I'm in the dark during the intervals between scans. Hardly. It's more that I'm in a situation where knowledge is a powerful tool and the more of it my doctors, particularly my oncologist, have about me, the better.

The only problem? The frequency of these recurring diagnostic scans means nearly every week, bi-weekly immunotherapy infusions notwithstanding, I'm in some kind of "weak."

As you all know, I can compartmentalize but, I'm afraid the compartments are starting to fill up. Ten-plus years of surviving cancer will do that.

The CT scan and MRI appointments, in and of themselves are not compartment-filling though. Having had over 50 of them by now, I'm unaffected. Moreover I drive the same route to the same facility and are tended to by the same technicians; my good luck charms, as I tell them.

They always greet me by name, smile and ask how I'm doing. I likewise reply in a positive way and thank them for the many good results I've had and encourage them to keep up the good work (I realize they have nothing to do with the actual results, good or bad, but I still like to prime the pump, so to speak).

And when the process is complete, I'll leave feeling more upbeat than when I arrived. A feeling which continues until the next week, "the weak after." That's when I'll feel the same kind of emotional jitters I experienced during "the weak before."

So, as I begin "the weak of," I begin it with hope and humor, my stock-in-trade. Hope for all the obvious reasons and humor because whatever happens, I'll likely make some joke about it and try to lighten the weight of it all with as light a touch as I can muster.

But for the time/"weak" being, I will enjoy the not-knowing the results and bask in the presumptive naivete. Because, if and when there is confirmation that my ship has sailed or that it's beginning to take on water, there might not be too much funny that I can say or do at that point to turn the tide.

Nevertheless, I'd like to think I'll be up to the challenge. One never knows. These three "weaks" I can manage. We'll see about the next one.

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