Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hot Coffee On A Cold Morning

I step out the french doors onto the deck and the hot cup of coffee in my hand begins to steam in the cold morning air.

In the far distance, I can faintly hear the constant rumble of Kingston Road to the north and the occasional passing of a GO train to the south. But these are distant sounds more than a kilometer away from me and at 6 o'clock in the morning it is mostly a silent world.

Lindsay has run several times around the backyard defensively seeking signs of intrusion into our property overnight. She is black and the sun is still not fully up so I hear the clinking of her collar and her warning growl more than I see her.

The back of the wicker furniture is wet with dew but the cushions are dry and I sit in the relative silence of the city morning, drinking my coffee and waiting for the day to begin.

I've fallen into a routine that suits me well. I'm awake at 6 in the morning. Make coffee and then write a post for my blog. Linda is up by 7 and we talk for a while. I check out comments and visit as many of the blogs I follow as I possibly can. By 9 I take Lindsay for a run and at 11 take an hour to meditate and exercise.

Linda and I then have the afternoon free for whatever the day holds.

But today, I will be phoning Princes Margaret Hospital for the results of my biopsy. I've waited two weeks for the feedback that will send my comfortable routine into one of several very different directions.

Will send my life into one of several very different directions.

I sip my coffee, the hot liquid flows easily down my throat past where the esophageal cancer once blocked the passage of just about everything. From my mouth, warmed by the coffee, I can see my breath for a flickering moment. Fall is here and as the days move toward winter, seeing my breath in the cold morning air will soon not be a novelty.

I love the Fall. I love the cold morning air. I love the feel of the warm coffee mug in my hands. I love the stillness of the day. I love the time to be alone and just think.

I love my life.

I can feel the wetness of the dew from the back of the chair against my skin. It has worked its way through my robe and my pajama top. It is cold but the warmth of my body will soon dry it out. There are some natural processes you can just count on.

But cancer is a mystery, for all the money, time and effort that has been spent on understanding it. It is running a strange and unpredictable path through my life, as it did through the life of Patrick Swayze who passed away last night, or Farrah Fawcett who died of the disease a month or so ago, after they both received the very best of care.

And as it failed to follow the expected pathway in the lives of Ian Gawler and David Servan-Schreiber who are both alive and healthy decades after their encounter with the worst the disease had to offer.

So a mystery.

My phone call to the hospital may unravel some of that mystery for me today. May change this comfortable routine. May send me along a new and different pathway.

But following new pathways is what being an explorer is all about. And as I sit in the lightening day, Lindsay (assured her world is safe) now sleeping at my feet, my mug of coffee almost gone, I realize whatever path my life will follow, it is bound to be interesting.

And I will learn a lot.


10:30 am

So I phone my Oncologist as requested to find out the results of the biopsy conducted two weeks ago.

And I get the office answering machine which informs me that the secretary is working from home today with limited opportunity to return calls. If this is an emergency....etc. etc.

I left a polite request that someone get back to me with the results of the test. We will see what happens, but so far, I guess you could say, I haven't learned a whole lot.


3:00 pm

Placed another call. Now the secretary's voice mailbox is full and not accepting further messages. I noticed this time that the voice message states that "This is Monday, and the secretary will be working from hone..."

But this is Tuesday. So she's been away two days now, likely ill, with no one taking her place.

Time to call one of the other oncologists I've been seeing.


4:30 pm

I finally reached the medical oncologist's office whose secretary confirmed that the biopsy report was in the system. The surgeon, whose office had ordered the biopsy and whose office phone number I have been trying all day, is still in surgery and likely hasn't had the opportunity to check for messages yet.

However, the medical oncologist has read the report and wants to see me to discuss it on Friday morning at 9 am.

It isn't something she wants to discuss over the phone.


So I will either get more details when the surgeon phones later today or on Friday morning.

Linda and I have been doing a lot of speculating about what all of this could mean, but the reality is we don't know.

So, instead of twisting ourselves into a pretzel, we're going out for dinner.

And maybe a little wine.