It’s good news.
Today, when Mark’s cancer doc came into the treatment room, she was all smiles. Dr. C is dark-haired and graceful, and quite entrancing under any circumstances. She always speaks precisely, her flutey voice lilting with a slight Romanian accent. Mark’s CAT scan, she told us, shows that his tumors have been reduced by about 20 percent, including tumors that are very difficult to reach and treat. The blood tests indicate that the tumor markers have decreased by half. The chemotherapy is working.
These changes, Dr. C said, are indicative of a likelihood of survival of longer than one year.
We are elated.
We recently watched the movie Interstellar. I puzzled over the plot elements, supposedly based on Einstein’s theory of time and space. You'll remember the theory of relativity from physics classes: Time isn’t an absolute. Clocks run more slowly in deep gravitational wells. In the movie, because some of the characters are traveling in space, in different gravitational fields, time passes more slowly for some of them than for others. Heady stuff to wrap your brain around.
The physics of time fluctuation may be elusive, but I’ve experienced another kind of time warp firsthand. If six months ago, before Mark’s diagnosis, I had been told that Mark might only live another year, I would have been devastated. A year, such a tiny bit of time. Why, we expected years and years, decades even, to live the rest of our lives.
But this fall, when Mark was first diagnosed, the first doctor tossed out terrible numbers: six months to live, maybe just three months. Hardly time to even catch our breath.
So with those awful predictions as a starting point, a year is a blessed long period. Time to celebrate another birthday, another Thanksgiving, another Christmas. Time for walks on the beach, laughter with friends, silly road trips. Time to hold each other’s hands and to keep our son close, time to drink champagne and watch sunsets. A luxury of time. An exuberance of time. Days and weeks and months of it.
Of course, I want the whole miracle of remission. I want years and years and years. But a year is a darned good place to start.