Thursday, January 14, 2016
Ziggy, Severus and Perspective
Time might be fleeting but it can also weigh heavy.
Without doubt it has been a rough week for fans of David Bowie and Alan Rickman and if you are a fan of both...it was a double whammy of unexpected death. When I worked at CBC's The Journal, years ago - when Television Current Affairs had the power to shape a national dialogue - whenever two famous individuals would die in close proximity we'd nod our heads and remark aloud that death came in threes and wonder who would be the third. As of this moment, I am still waiting for the name and desperately hoping that whoever it is, they don't die of cancer.
And if you are crazy about Dancing in The Streets and fabulous acting and you happen to be dealing with a cancer diagnosis then you might be even more bummed out by those seemingly inevitable lines: "died after battling with, struggling with, years of coping with cancer." Don't get me wrong, I am not sitting here awash in doomsaying or worrying deeply about my impending death. The opposite, in fact. But when I read the obits, something I have done for decades, and cancer is the reason for the death, especially an early death, I get glum for a few minutes. I suspect that is inevitable. After all what else do I really share with Rickman and Bowie, other than my incredible ability to carry a tune or portray evil so effectively (not), than the fact that all three of us have (had) cancer? But in reality, and this is what really truly has me writhing, I don't even share that. And just at the point where I was about to get truly dark, I open the New York Times and read a review of Clive James' latest book of poetry, Sentenced to Life. You know the man was diagnosed with terminal leukemia in 2010...and since then he's written 6 books. I think he's the model I'd emulate.
Cancer as a diagnosis never comes without a designator... cancer of the liver, breast cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer and so on. And each cancer has a different prognosis, origin, treatment options etc. Cancer scares people and it saddens people. But making sense of cancer actually does demand that you pay attention to odds, treatments and possibilities. Paying attention to these issues allows you to actually wrestle with your situation in a constructive fashion, in ways that help.
And if this sounds like inside baseball, it is actually. These types of distinctions matter to me, to Debi and Jane, probably not so much to obit writers, Snape fans, Glam aficionados or the recently deceased. But these are the thoughts that come to you at four in the morning when it is dark and the house is quiet and you are on hold.
I am on hold. My chemo and radiation is done and my CT scan doesn't happen until early February. I have to wait that long to see what's up with the tumor and whether surgery is possible. My surgeon's nurse tells me that on average surgery happens about four weeks after the scan which would mean early March. On one hand, this is really normal, on the other hand this is crazy making. Waiting for surgery is anxiety inducing on its own ( trust me I know this from too much experience), waiting to see if you can even have surgery is a whole new order of anxiousness. That's what they invented meditation for, trying to sort out the true difference between normal and crazy making and, of course, it is all in the perspective.
So now at four in the morning, I ignore the obits and watch old movies staring Alan Rickman (God, he is good) and YouTube videos of Major Tom.
Oh and just as I was about to post this, Celine Dion's husband has just died, after a two decade struggle with cancer. That's number 3.