I didn’t record the conversation and I’m reasonably sure what I remember hearing was couched in more articulate, gentler, bedside phraseology when the doctor set me down to explain what condition my condition was in. But the only words that really stuck with me were, “You have cancer but you’re lucky.”
He went on explain that I have a tumor on my left kidney that 90 percent of the time is cancerous.
Name your favorite word that ends in “noma” and you’re probably close enough. As far as I’m concerned, one is as scary as another and I’d rather my name not be associated with any of them.
If “cancer” and “lucky” have to be used in the same sentence, I would much prefer to hear something like, “You’re lucky you don’t have cancer.” And, at least at this writing, there’s a 10 percent chance I don’t have the Big C, assuming the medical profession is reasonably accurate at determining such odds.
In the meantime there is, without doubt, a tumor attached to the tip of my left kidney and, at least I’m told, I’m lucky they found it because they were actually looking for something else. Not only am I lucky they found it but it’s located in a spot where they can cut it out and only take less than half my kidney when they do the surgery.
This has been explained to me by three different urologists. How lucky can one man be?
So, how come I don’t feel like I just hit the Powerball jackpot? It sorta feels like I bought the ticket and now the lottery is telling that I owe it a few hundred million dollars instead of the other way around.
Anyway, the surgeon told me late last week that there is no dire sense of urgency to immediately get rid of this thing and he gave me the option of waiting a few months and then going through the CT scans again to see if it’s still growing and, if so, how rapidly.
Ordinarily I would have asked them to check me in, cut it out and get it over with, in which case, I’d be telling you the tale of how it went instead of still harboring a train load of worry. But “ordinary” is not an adjective that often applies to my physical or mental health except on those rare occasions when my blood pressure is approximately where it’s supposed to be. At this writing, I’m afraid to check it because I’m afraid I wouldn’t feel nearly as lucky as I’m supposed to be feeling right now.
The big reason for the postponement is that the risk of death from surgical complications is at least as great as anything the cancer is apt to do to me. Because I’ve already survived two strokes, I’m told that my chances of having another one are about 10 times greater than “ordinary” and surgery could trigger another one that might put a permanent end to my lucky streak.
And since I already take more medicine to placate Mr. Parkinson as well as to