This is Your Ego on Cancer

Part I


You’re not sure how your ego got attached to the fallacy of ‘permanence.’

But you are stuck with it.

Until you become unstuck as the doctor gives you the biopsy test results. The three words squamous cell carcinoma sound quite poetic if you say them slowly and liltingly. But then they start to grow on you. That’s never good. There’s nothing quite like squamous cell carcinoma growing in your jaw to suck all the poetry out of a perfectly good phrase.

In the absence of poetry, you plan for jaw surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. A friend gives you a fluffy dressing gown and slippers, so you can dress for your new role. You receive several of those little microwaveable pillows infused with lavender from other friends. You are given four copies of The Book of Psalms.

During the longest four weeks in the history of time you rush around to pre-surgical tests and appointments with specialists. You have trouble processing the words coming at you. People in white coats say the most appalling things to you. Like, “You can probably make it through the radiation treatment without a feeding tube.” Then they have the audacity to bill you for it later. And you’re not even that special! There’s a whole army of people waiting in physicians’ offices so they can hear things they wish they didn’t have to.

Meanwhile, your mind is frozen in the middle of this highway to Purgatory. You stare blankly at the headlights rushing toward you. This is why they recommend you bring a family member to doctors’ appointments, so you can gaze at the looming headlights while someone else, who is still competent to listen, has got that covered.

Then treatment begins.

It’s like a feast-day to a newly-minted patron saint of wounds, radiation burns and mouth ulcers: a ten-hour jaw surgery, followed by a six-week recovery, chased down by two months of chemo and radiation. You lose your sense of humor. You also lose the ability to talk, taste and chew. Your mind isn’t so much frozen any more, just mushy. You have trouble concentrating. You watch TV programs about eccentric English doctors, living in charming villages with quirky but well-meaning neighbors, none of whom has cancer. Why aren’t there more programs like this?

The reality is that during the fire drill of treatment, you don’t have the time or bandwidth to make sense of the ‘big picture’ of your cancer experience. Because since diagnosis, you balance on a high tension wire, trying not to look down. This is what you focus on: Make it through treatment. Avoid infection. Get enough nutrition. Take the right medication at the right time in the right dose. Do your physical therapy exercises. Survive.

You spend the best part of three months in your PJs, slippers and fluffy dressing gown conducting quasi-military rituals of hand sanitizing, tending surgical wounds, exercising to regain your ability to swallow and speak, and reviewing the minutiae of blood test results. It’s like a long vacation, except Not!

You’re so busy scrambling to get through treatment, that there’s no time to stop and think, ‘Oh yeah, duh, geez, how did I manage to overlook that. Yeah, that’s right: Nothing is permanent. We are all mortal. Even me. Especially me.’

‘Shit happens.’

You just don’t have time to think like that.

But as you recover from radiation and chemo, the thought crosses your mind. Or more precisely, the realization that you’re mortal runs over your mind like a Mack truck blaring down the freeway, leaving your psyche into a gelatinous puddle splattered across the tarmac.

Sigh! You lie there like Wile E. Coyote after another cartoon cliff-fall and wonder if there’s something you can order from Acme Inc. to prevent this kind of thing. Truth is, you could really do with someone to blame, or something. And that’s when you realize that your ego hoodwinked you into believing the fallacy of permanence.

That’s when you see this ad:

Grimgran, is under-world famous for her unique ability to crush and pulverize the puffed-up ego that has already caused you a lifetime of unnecessary grief.
Are you looking for someone to let the air out of the overinflated bubble of exhaust fumes and mirrors that you call your ego?
Are you searching for the kind of psychic Dominatrix who can beat your ego into submission so you can recover from the delusion that you are immortal?
Would you like to work with an expert who gets straight to the point, specializing in the kind of brevity that appeals to the ‘playpen of colored plastic balls’ that you call your concentration span?
If you answered yes to any one of these questions, you are clearly desperate enough to need Grimgran’s services. Call Today!

You read with rapt fascination. And since you do have an exceptionally short attention span now, possibly not even a full ‘playpen,’ you immediately contact Grimgran for advice. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

Next thing you know it, you’re at the Grimgran Research Institute for Egos Falling…

Stay tuned for Part II!