The Unbearable Lightness of Being

By January 20, 2020 What page are we on???

Interval healing. That’s what my scans revealed.

I’m still trying to figure out what it is or maybe where it is. Somewhere between not where I want to be and not where I’ve been. Yet heading in the right direction.

It’s still a place of uncertainty, although  I realize, no matter where I go any longer, uncertainty is a certainty.

My doctor and my body are like my childhood Magic 8 Ball these days in their cryptic analysis: Outlook cloudy, try again later.

What did I want my scans to reveal? What would make me happy? Something definitive. Something numeric. An upward number or a downward number. Scans, though, are read by radiologists who write about what they see and then their “impression.” Somehow impression doesn’t sound definitive. It sounds very Magic 8 Ball.

My doctor looks worried (although a nurse reminds me he always looks worried, so you can’t go by that). I ask him what it means. He shuffles papers, pulls out a few snippets from the radiologist’s report, then hands it to me. I realize he hasn’t really read it. That’s why he’s worried. He’s a student caught without having done his homework.

I take the report and start reading my own snippets. “Healing response.” “Interval healing.”

“This sounds good, right?” I say.

He looks at his computer, then at me. “Well, yes,” he says. “But we’re still going to change meds.”  He goes on about biochemical changes as a way of justification. I nod in agreement, even though I know at this moment we’re not quite on the same page about what’s going on inside my body. It’s nothing I can put my finger on. It’s like a piano key slightly out of tune.

When I ask what the radiologist means when he writes the tumor is “filling in” I realize that healing is a new world, with different rules, different terminology that I still don’t quite understand. That I still haven’t distilled meaning from.

The corpses of dead cancer cells build up, making the tumor seem denser or “filled in.”  He calls them blastic. I call them blasted. Either way, they are more dense than the living, breathing, pernicious cancer cells. Death is heavy. Life is light. And the unbearable lightness of being, I discover, is trying to make sense of where the balance lies. This is the weighty process of healing. It’s interval healing.

It’s where I imagine the Syrian refugees live. Out of the reach of an annihilating government and warring terrorists and yet still in search of a final safe haven. Still living in the clutches of uncertainty. Still looking to a Magic 8 Ball for answers in a senseless world that offers none.

Later, a nurse goes over what it will take for me to transfer over to new meds. Life saving meds. Expensive meds.

She’ll need to get an authorization from the insurance company. There may be a fight. There will be lots of paperwork. The doctor will have to justify the change of course. It could take days, maybe a week. We’ll have to wait and see.

I ask her about blastic cells and get a different answer then the one the doctor gave me. I realize I’m going to need a course in microbiology to figure out the answers I’m looking for. Maybe a course in miracles as well.

We seem to be miles apart in our concern about my interval healing and the headaches it’s about to bring.

All we’re able to agree on at the moment is the uncertainty.

Liz Johnson

Liz Johnson

Writer. Blogger. Advocate. Breast Cancer Conscript.