good news: take one

This post doesn’t contain good news, it is about receiving “good” news. Prompted by some “good” news I received yesterday, if you want to call it that. My family and friends did. I just nodded and tried to pinpoint what I was feeling. I definitely wouldn’t call it happy. Cautious relief, maybe? A marked decrease in the amount of time I spend contemplating the various things the new spot could be and deciding my future under each of the alternatives? A breath out and then a feeling of profound exhaustion about what lies ahead?

This appointment, like most others, didn’t provide much clarity. The doctor still isn’t overly concerned about the new spot, which did show up in the ultrasound and does appear to be in the ovary, but still doesn’t have a definitive answer on what it is. He’s going to check it again in a few weeks to see what it does, and that might help determine what it is. This doesn’t sound like good news when I say it like that, but the doctor said it was good, and he knows better than I do about what is good and what is bad.

All I know is I just don’t like characterizing every piece of news I get as good or bad. It is what it is. I don’t have much control over what happens and everything changes so frequently that I don’t have the energy to keep track of what’s good and what’s bad at any given time. I suspect that I think this way because I tend to look at the big picture. When you have cancer, even “less-bad,” “slow-growing” neuroendocrine cancer, the big picture sucks. I’m not overly negative or pessimistic about everything regarding my treatment and prognosis (maybe you’ve noticed), I just tend to be even-keeled. I ride the train of my disease (analogy courtesy of my therapist) instead of the roller coaster. This is just how I think. It’s fine to ride the roller coaster–maybe it’s more fun to be able to “celebrate” the “good” news when it comes. But i’m an urban planner and I like trains, so I choose to ride the train.

Obviously I didn’t learn anything from my sixth grade teacher who used to say over and over, “Inch by inch, everything’s a cinch. Yard by yard, everything’s hard.” OK, so maybe I make this harder for myself. But if I have learned anything from studying mindfulness, it’s that I can’t change the direction my mind goes in. I can notice (and blog about it) and gently direct it back to center.

To me, good news is not today’s, “I’ll see you in 3 weeks after you’ve had another ultrasound and another round of chemo” but, “I don’t need to schedule a followup appointment because I don’t need to see you again.” That was the news another patient received loudly and joyously in the hallway outside my exam room this morning while I was waiting for the doctor and getting my blood drawn. Wow. What must that feel like?

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One Response to good news: take one

  1. I have to agree with your statement about not liking to clarify news as good or bad. I have Stage IV appendiceal cancer (diagnosed at age 29, abdominal mets at age 31 and now three lung nodules – I turn 33 in a week). My supporters are always so happy and overjoyed when I receive certain “news” but to me it doesn’t always feel “good”, it’s just better than the alternative. I still have cancer and I’m still persueing treatment options. I appreciate your blog – I started one myself about four weeks ago and it feels like we share a somewhat similar attitude towards our diagnosis and outlook. Keep up the fight!

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