November is a special month for me. I was diagnosed with a tumor on my spine on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving seven years ago. Seven years. Madeline and Peter were 13 and 10. Now they are kind of like adults. Just like me. I don't know if I will ever reach full adulthood. I don't know if I want to.
I thought at the time in my steriod-induced way that it would be a good idea to get a little tattoo to remind me of the cancer experience. Nothing big. Just a little mnemonic on my chest where the radiation target was. I am not normally fond of tattoos, but it could have been kind of a cool reminder of the joy it is to be alive. As time passes I have come to realize that such a tattoo is unnecessary. The experiences of that time seven years ago are with me every day. But not in a bad way (for the most part). If you can keep your mortality in your mind just enough, it really helps keep things in perspective.
I had my routine quarterly oncologist appointment this past week. An unusual one, since my oncologist of the past seven years is nearing retirement and no longer comes to the Saint Paul office. I decided that since in all probability my life expectancy exceeds his expected work life, this would be a good time to change oncologists. Last week was the first appointment with my new oncologist. He's great, and I quickly felt a rapport with him. I'm in a new set of good hands. And I always feel blessed that my "regular" doctor is also my neighbor and friend. A good, logical, well thought out decision.
But there is a part of me that is quite superstitious when it comes to cancer. Am I tempting fate to think that I'll be around for a long while? Should I change doctors when things are going well? Odd thoughts pop into my mind. The one bad blood test I had was the one I worried least about. So part of me views worrying about the results of a blood test as the "dues" that need to be paid for a good result. But it all worked out fine. The blood tests came back with perfectly normal results. I feel great. My back feels better than it has at any time in the last seven years (knock on wood - there's that superstition thing again). Some of that I attribute to good regular exercise. And the passage of time.
Seven years. Who needs a tattoo?