Keep dodging

I was speaking to a friend last night, catching up on what’s been happening, particularly with my health. As I updated her, she commented in passing that I was ‘on borrowed time’.

I was surprised. Initially, I was put out a tad by the blunt rawness of it. As we continued to talk, I wondered, is that what she meant? Is it really what she thinks? And do others think the same?

There’s a fair amount of interpretation possible in a comment like that. I took it to mean that I got away with it this time, but it would probably get me next time. There may be some truth to that, but the trick is to avoid the next time.

You can bet it made me think about things. Considering what I’ve gone through, I feel okay and getting better all the time. I don’t look nearly as bad as I did, and people comment on how well I look. To the casual observer, I look fine. Much of the weight I lost has returned, most of it as muscle, and I look well put together. And the exercise recently has toned me up. I lost all condition. Now it’s coming back nicely.

None precludes a return of cancer or a secondary occurrence of it. I figure that the odds are roughly 50/50, though I have no idea. They give you the all-clear after five years, and presumably, you’re most at risk in the early part of that. It’s coming up to a year since I had surgery – August 12. I must remember to ring a bell. I had a PET scan last week, and so far, so good.

There’s no science to it, but I don’t think it will come back. I was lucky to survive in the first place, but some of that was because I was relatively young and very strong. I’m not as strong as I was; I’m certainly not as young as I used to be, but my resilience is proven. And – if it counts for anything – I’m fucking determined.

I’d hate to think people believed that it would catch up with me, but not nearly as much as if it was true. I’ll deal with whatever comes my way, but I object to the notion that I’m doomed and my fate predetermined. I don’t believe in fate, and even if I did, I’d fight it. To believe that I was on borrowed time would be the same as believing all effort is futile. I won’t buy that.

To be fair, my friend’s sister was diagnosed with terminal cancer about the same time I got my diagnosis. I dodged a bullet, but for her, it’s only a matter of time – there’s nothing they can do. That’s how it goes sometimes, and it makes you grateful for any good fortune when you know it.

I asked a friend what he thought. In his customary rational way, he agreed that I was on borrowed time – though I think in a different context.

He argued that my cancer was a very rare type and, though he didn’t mention it, being stage 4 meant I was fortunate to escape with my life. On top of that is my age – like many, and like most will at some, I’m edging into the more perilous years of life. Having had cancer, the peril is probably magnified.

I prefer the metaphor that I dodged a bullet, and I think that’s closer to what he intended in meaning, and maybe my other friend also. I plan to keep dodging.

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