My wife and I drove to Little Rock today with some friends today—Paul and his sister, Rose—for lunch at a place Paul mentioned to us last time we were together. It’s called Sauce(d), a new wood-fired pizza restaurant whose interior design is chic modern. Lots of bare wood, industrial metal, and black paint. The bar is huge and well-stocked. The selection of pizza is wonderful. The draft beer selections and wines on tap are inviting. Before lunch, we wandered the nearby Indian grocery (one of my favorite places to spend time in Little Rock). Just after eleven, we entered Sauce(d) and enjoyed an excellent meal. Paul and Rose shared a Quattro Stagioni, with San Marzano tomato, mozzarella, mushroom, olive, prosciutto, artichoke, and fresh basil. Janine ordered the same. I ordered the Some Like It Hot, with soppressatta, habanero honey, bacon marmelade, mozzarella, and basil. We also ordered a Some Like It Hot to go for Janine’s sister, Carol. After lunch, we stopped in to Colonial Liquor to have a look see. I did not buy a single malt Scotch, despite wanting to have done. Instead, I replenished our supply of Gilbey’s Gin. Because it needed replenishment. And then we drove home, taking the long way down a relatively deserted couple of highways, rather than jumping back on the freeway. It was a leisurely drive home. Once we dropped Paul and Rose at their respective houses, we stopped to get gas and to buy some gumbo from the Shell station that promotes gumbo as its Friday special. I’ve wanted to do that for quite some time. My wife knew this. She suggested we stop. She is wonderful and treats me better than I deserve.
Once home, we put a few things away and headed to Carol’s to deliver her pizza. Carol invited us in and offered us a glass of wine. We gratefully accepted. The three of us went and sat on her back deck to sip wine and chat. And then my phone rang. The caller ID said it was my oncologist. I answered the phone. And it was, indeed, my oncologist. Not her staff confirming my Monday appointment. It was my doctor. She asked if I was near her office. If so, she wondered if I would like to come in and talk with her, as she had information about my biopsy that she would like to share. I told her I was in Hot Springs Village, which is a good 35-40 minutes from her office. She said she thought it best to contact me as soon as she had information to share. She asked if I’d like to talk over the telephone, then, or wait until our Monday appointment. I wanted to talk then. Over the phone was fine. So she explained what she knew.
Just as she had expected, the biopsy confirmed that the tumor is malignant. The biopsy confirmed that I have adenocarcinoma, a non-small-cell lung cancer. She had already spoken to a cardiothoracic surgeon who would be calling me to arrange an appointment. That’s why she wanted to talk today; she wanted to speak to me before I got a call to arrange the appointment. She said she believes it is feasible to remove the cancer surgically. She recommends that I have it done at UAMS in Little Rock. The surgeon who would do it, she said (though I don’t have a name) specializes in removing lung tumors. “Not pancreas, not heart, not liver, not stomach, only the lung.”
I didn’t have the presence of mind to ask what stage, if they have determined it yet, nor when my surgery might be done, nor any of the thousands of other questions I’m sure to have. But I did ask if I could keep my Monday morning appointment with her. “Of course.”
Thus far, I’ve kept my emotions well in check. But I feel them battling to overwhelm me. Even though I believe, intellectually and emotionally, that we caught this early enough that it will be defeated, probably relatively easily, it’s more difficult than I expected. It is not as easy to deal with the actual diagnosis as I thought it would be. After having read what I’ve read, I was prepared for the diagnosis. I suspected it would be as previously advertised: it’s probably cancer. I suspect it’s at an early stage. I suspect that, given it’s early, it will involve a straightforward treatment. It won’t be horrendous. It will be annoying, but not horrendous. But none of the rational stuff seems to matter at this moment. I’m having to force myself to maintain my composure. I do not want my wife to watch me turn into a puddle over a diagnosis that is far less onerous than the one with which she dealt fifteen years ago. So I shall not. I shall, instead, write my emotions as if I were having them and not show them.
As strange as it seems, part of my upset is not the cancer so much as it is the inconvenience it will involve. Trips to Little Rock (where, I’m sure, the surgery will be done), frequent visits to the doctor (wherever those visits take place), insurance, out-of-pocket expenses, etc. etc. I should be more concerned about the treatment and the outcome than the inconvenience it will pose. What’s wrong with my thinking here?
I’m writing this almost in real time as I’m thinking about this stuff. I probably shouldn’t. I should wait and process it. But on the other hand I kind of wanted to document how I felt. But I’m not sure whether I really wanted that or not. What the hell. I’m writing and I’m posting. I guess that’s the way my mind works.