A Simple Desultory Biopsic

If I’m not mistaken, early diagnosis and treatment of cancer is one of the best predictors of long-term survival. So I find it strange that medical professionals responsible for arranging for and scheduling tests diagnostic tests would not put a premium on speed in getting tests scheduled. Yep, I’m ventilating again.

I’m still waiting to have my lung biopsy scheduled. That is the single most important test that will be undertaken to help understand my cancer. The biopsy will reveal whether I have small cell lung cancer or non-small cell lung cancer (or, in the event miracles occur in light of 9.5 SUV levels from PET scans, no cancer at all).  And the biopsy will suggest treatments. Surgery is the most likely first step. But what about chemo and radiation? We’ll see.


This morning, after I wrote the preceding paragraphs, I went in for a lung function test. I sat on a sculpted wooden stool inside a plexiglass case and breathed through a mouthpiece, following the technician’s directions. I breathed in, breathed out, panted, expelled every molecule of air from my lungs, held my breath, and performed all sorts of other contortions with my lungs. At one point, I inhaled a bronchodilator agent a couple of times. I then went through some of the same tests I had done earlier. When all the tests were completed, the technician showed me the results in both numerical and graphical form. While my numbers weren’t bad, they were lower than the standard expected for someone of my age, gender, and weight. The numbers improved significantly (by more than twenty percent) after I inhaled the brochodilator agent. Essentially, he said, that means that the bronchodilator addressed some problems (inflammation, I gather) with my lungs. He suggested that smoking could conceivably have caused the problems. The results of my tests will be reviewed and interpreted by a pulmonologist and will be posted to my online information center, which I’ll be able to review shortly after the information is posted.


It’s now nearing 5:00 p.m. and I still haven’t received a call to schedule the biopsy. Not that the wait for the biopsy has anything to do with the lung function test. Except, I suppose, they’re both tests, so they’re related. But not really. Sort of like the CT scan of my head that will take place next Monday morning is unrelated to the biopsy or the lung function endeavor this morning…but they’re all tests and they’re all related in some convoluted way to the “mass” (I hate calling it tumor for some reason) in my lung, so they’re relatives, like brothers and aunts and sisters and cousins and fathers and great grandmothers and sons and third cousins thrice removed. Or something like that.


Earlier today (MUCH earlier today), I attempted to write about the emotions I’m feeling as I think about what my diagnosis (in both its present form and in the form it will take after the biopsy) means and will mean to me and to my family and friends. I couldn’t finish writing the explanation because it seemed drenched in self-pity, which I didn’t want it to be. But no matter how I reconfigured the words and rearranged the sentences, it screamed self-pity at me. Perhaps that’s what my words conveyed. But I wanted NOT to convey that. I wanted to express my raw emotions. I wanted to document how I felt so one day, when I return to read what I’ve written, I can understand how I felt. I’ll go back to what I wrote and give it another try, either by editing it or starting over. If I can fix it, I will. If not, I’ll post it anyway. Because even if I can’t extract the self-pity from it, maybe that’s what I actually feel and will just have to get over the embarrassment of being shallow and self-centered.


I wonder whether I (or anyone else who reads the title of this post), ten years hence, will have a clue what I tried to do with it? Probably not. Maybe not even today or tomorrow. About three months ago, I posted something under a similar title: A Simple Desultory Dystopic. It was a short, vapid attempt at dystopian fantasy. A dystopian fantasy seems to be morphing into a dystopian reality “as I live and breathe.” My attempts at black humor are falling flat, I think. Perhaps another day.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to A Simple Desultory Biopsic

  1. Bev, I love you for your generous sharing of insights. Thank you. Thank you.

  2. bev wigney says:

    I think self-pity is a pretty valid feeling when you’re faced with a serious medical issue. I’ve been around this kind of thing for myself and people close to me often enough to know that there’s always at least a little “why me? why now? what now?” and getting pissed off about *this* suddenly invading your life. Add to that that you are venturing into unfamiliar and downright scary territory. Sailing to the edge of the world. Takes some getting used to.

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