One Year Ago

Spring                                                                                   Maiden Moon

Had blood drawn yesterday for my third post surgery PSA. Right now they come every quarter, routine surveillance. The first two have showed .015 which is the clinical equivalent of none. Since the results have followed the best hoped for pattern, I’m experiencing no anxiety about them.

Today is my second annual physical with Dr. Lisa Gidday. This physical revisits a key moment from cancer season. The start of the season. It was last year at my first physical in Colorado when Dr. Gidday found a suspicious hardness in my prostate. I count cancer season as having begun with that physical on April 14th and ending in late September with my first follow up PSA.

It was a short time compared to my image of what cancer is typically like. It went: initial suspicion, see urologist who confirmed Gidday’s finding, biopsy, diagnosis, decision on treatment, surgery, recovery, first PSA after surgery. All this in six months.

There is the question of a cure. Does this mean I have no more prostate cancer? Did the end of cancer season mean the end of the cancer threat? No, it does not. Things look good, very good, but the clinical reality is that a few cancerous prostate cells could have escaped and are dormant right now. My gut says no, that is not the case. I feel rid of the traitorous bastards.

In fact, I feel very healthy right now. Yes, I have this damned knee, lower back and shoulder, but they’re nuisance level. Yes, I have chronic kidney disease, but it seems stable. In fact the numbers that gauge its severity actually improved in my last blood work done in October. Yes, I have insomnia, but it’s just one of those damned things.

My point here is that aging means an accumulation (for most of us) of chronic conditions. We can choose to focus on those as ongoing problems, become obsessive about them and drown ourselves in anxiety or we can recognize their inevitability and, if not embrace them, at least accept them with grace. Most of the time.

The anxiety is unnecessary. That is the point of Yama, the Tibetan deity. To worship Yama we envision our own death, see it coming, embrace its part in our story. When we can truly accept the reality of our own death, anxiety about what may deliver it to us becomes redundant. We may not know the particulars, but we do know the outcome of our life. It’s the same for all of us.