This is me after my final round of chemo. Unfortunately, after six months of treatment, there is no way to know for sure that there are no cancer cells. We can spend one billion dollars to make a telescope that can see through space to the beginning of time but there is no instrument that can detect individual cancer cells that have not yet regrouped and taken residence in another area of the body.
Since I am not a person of faith which makes me squeamish about counting on the supernatural, I cannot justify the mere hope of not getting a recurrence. So, I saw the radiologist last week. and he gave me the odds. If you stick me in a room with a hundred women with the same size and type of breast tumor and two affected lymph nodes, five years from now five of those women will be suffering from a recurrence and/or dead, even with radiation. Without radiation, 15 women will be in that position. So, like George Bush, I keep attacking the unseen and unknowable enemy. Unlike George Bush, I will be responsible only for the death of some of my good cells and not for the deaths of thousands of young Americans, in the process.
It’s really hard to celebrate the end of chemo when I’m facing 33 visits to the radiologist, every day, five times a week. My body wants a break, a chance to recover and regroup after massive surgery and six months of chemo, but that means giving potential cancer cells a break, giving them a chance to recover and regroup. I have to hope that my cancer cells are not as stubborn as I am in their fight to stay alive.
Thinking about getting radiation reminds me of that old joke: Two guys get captured by a violent tribe shouting Magumba! One guy watches his buddy suffer as they rip out his fingernails, cut off his dick, poke his eyes out and skin him alive, leaving him in a pile of fire ants to die. When they turn their attention to him, they ask him, “Do you want death or Magumba?” He chooses death. “As you wish,” says the leader, “but first..Magumba!”