Today would have been Mark’s third scheduled infusion in this round of chemotherapy, but his blood work this morning shows that his platelet level is too low for the treatment. He will skip this week to give his body some more time to recover. We are told this is a very common occurrence as treatment progresses. In fact, the doctor remarked that she was surprised Mark has managed to get this far on the rigorous chemotherapy schedule without a modification. The bone marrow, she tells us, “gets tired.”
Well, we are all tired.
Last week we were given the unwelcome news that Mark’s tumor markers appeared to be on the rise. We were advised, though, that this was not a definitive indicator. Mark will have a CAT scan on March 13, and the scan will tell us whether the tumors are growing. In the meantime, we will fly back to the desert for some recovery time.
Years ago, I watched a training video of a room of people bouncing white and black balls. We viewers were tasked with counting how many times the black balls bounced during a period of time. It required quite a bit of concentration. Afterwards, the facilitator asked the viewers if they had noticed anything unusual during the test period. No one had—in spite of the fact that a man in a gorilla suit had walked through the center of the video scene of bouncing balls. We didn’t see the gorilla because we were totally focused on the task we’d been assigned. Food for thought: When you’re totally focused on one task, you’re likely to miss all the other things that are going on around you.
And so it is in Cancer Land. We are totally focused on negotiating through this maze of cancer, and so much else doesn’t get noticed. February disappeared in a blur. Days and weeks are measured not by the month or the season, but rather as how long since the last treatment, how long until the next infusion, when will Mark have the next diagnostic test. I don’t want to cede this kind of power to the disease, but cancer dogs us. I have emails and letters from friends that I haven’t answered because I just can’t muster the energy. I am astonished when I notice that some trees and bushes are in full-fledged bloom in Seattle. When did winter turn toward spring?
But bright spots do sparkle, even in the cancer gloom. Soon we will move back into our house, which has been completely remodeled in a crazy-short timeframe, thanks to the compassion and diligence of our architect and builder team. Our son will be close by, and our new dog will arrive. This coming week we once again will enjoy the soothing tranquility of the desert. Best of all, we have friends who have made it their business to make sure that we are cared for—friends who have walked with us, cooked for us, and showered us with messages of love and support.
We can’t escape from Cancer Land, not now at least. But we are trying to lift our heads once in a while, so that we don’t miss the gorilla, or whatever else is out there on our horizon.