Hello cancer, my old friend (Apologies to Paul Simon)

And it makes me so terribly sad for those families for whom the diagnosis is much worse. And for those who have lived through a family member or friend dying of the other types of cancer, aggressive, relentless killers, or dementia and Alzheimer’s, or any other condition that steals a life.

This is a weird place to be.

And I don’t mention it because I want to scare anyone, but because it is a weird place to be.

I’m going to have a kidney removed in late June because it contains what appears to be a tumor that for all odds is cancer. They won’t know for sure until the tumor is removed and biopsied, but as I’ve told relatives, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck.

That’s the really horrible news. And a month after being told, it is still horrible news.

But then, turns out, it’s not as bad as it sounds.

A month ago I passed a kidney stone. During the follow-up to ensure that the stone had passed, an ultra sound exam picked up what was called a “renal mass.”

Three weeks of tests later — I’ve had so many CT scans, I could rent myself out as a night light – it was determined that the mass was a roughly 2-inch tumor in my left kidney.

It has been there for 10 years, when a scan found a tiny spot, but whoever did the scan was not looking for a spot on my kidney, but for something else I have forgotten about.

It took 10 years for it to grow enough to be noticed for what it actually is, a tumor.

Researching the disease, and discussions with the doctor, reveal that kidney cancer is a somewhat odd thing in the cancer world. Sometimes it involves other organs and tissues, and grows aggressively, and sometimes it doesn’t.

Mine didn’t.

It is wholly contained inside the kidney, so removal of the kidney will remove the tumor, the doctor said.

There is no involvement of any muscle or fat tissues, or any other organ. This type of kidney cancer spreads first to the lungs, and a test last week showed it has not spread.

It was clear that Dr. Lai was relieved to tell me that.

Granted nothing in the medical world is guaranteed, so even after I lose my kidney, they will test for cancer in the area vacated by the kidney.

That’s why this is weird.

I kept my foot on the brake when the light turned green and the tractor trailer that ran the red light didn’t broadside me. The falling tree landed in the other direction.

I got lucky. It seems.

And it makes me so terribly sad for those families for whom the diagnosis is much worse. And for those who have lived through a family member or friend dying of the other types of cancer, aggressive, relentless killers, or dementia and Alzheimer’s, or any other condition that steals a life.

I suppose I should be running around hair on fire,

But I’m not. And I wouldn’t be if the diagnosis was worse. No buckets lists, no righting of wrongs, no apologies for the jerk I might have been.

Life is about ups and downs, success and failure, great joy and disappointments, loss, remembrance and happiness, usually all at the same time.

This is not acceptance or giving up.

This is – and we all do this daily by living — raging against the dying light, not by complaining about fate, but by living, doing and being.

The last song that was playing on the truck radio the other day was Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good.”

And it has been.

That’s why I’ve been lucky.

We’ll see what happens.



About michaelstephendaigle

I have been writing most of my life. I am the author of the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series. "The Swamps of Jersey (2014); "A Game Called Dead" (2016) -- a Runner-Up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Author Contest; and "The Weight of Living" (2017) -- First Place winner for Mysteries in the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards Contest.
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6 Responses to Hello cancer, my old friend (Apologies to Paul Simon)

  1. Jo Sippie-Gora says:

    Michael, Since cancer has become so prevalent, I’m not surprised anymore when someone posts that they have been diagnosed with it. But your clarity and good fortune are uncommon. Like you said, it took many years to grow. I hope you take that fact as a guide not to rush into any precautionary (but possibly unnecessary) treatments other than the one kidney’s removal. But either way, I’ve no doubt you’ll make the best decisions for yourself. Hoping for you to have a good recovery…. Jo

    • Thanks, Jo. I’ve seen the film of the scans. Nothing in the lungs and nothing outside the kidney. The issue is the location of the tumor…right at the urinary tract. growing larger could cause later problems … also removing just the tumor and part of the kidney is more complicated surgically and could cause issues later. This, with it own inherent issues, seems simpler because I can live with one kidney

  2. amreade says:

    It sounds like your prognosis is good, so I’m thankful for that. It also sounds like you’re coming to terms with a scary diagnosis. Thank goodness the tumor hadn’t spread to your lungs. Best wishes for healing and strength.

  3. While any diagnosis of cancer is disturbing, to say the least. I’m so glad to hear your prognosis and attitude towards this is good.

    • Thanks, Anita. It was a shock. But I kept asking why no one noticed over 10 years, I have 100 blood tests and physicals etc.. no one noticed? I guess medicine is so specialized the answer could be no. But when the test showed that it had not migrated to my lungs we all felt better. They will remove the kidney because if the tumor grows even if it is benign, it would begin to affect the urinary tract, and other organs because of its size. Just could have been a lot worse.

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