Sorry, it’s been a while since my last post. Life has been somewhat challenging. In 2019, I was informed of a benign tumor partly in the spine and outside the spine. (Somewhere in-between Intradural and Extradural). So on February 6, 2020, I opted for limited excision of the tumor outside the spine and received a shitload of steroids and limited radiation intended to beat down the remainder. Or, if it weren’t going to get beaten down, maybe, just maybe, the rest would stay in check. 

Twenty months later, I could feel a modestly small lump on my neck. After poking, prodding, massaging, and gliding my fingers over the node, I just knew: The tumor started to regrow. When tumors return, uncertainties return as well. Tumors can grow in any part of the body or regrow in the original place. So, like a traveling’ snowbird,’ mine decided to open residency in the location previously vacated. All of this means that for now, the tumor could be a ‘local recurrence.’

My doctor acknowledges my concerns. “Although,” he cautioned. “This could be simple scar tissue from the surgery two years ago, and there’s no point in any undue diagnosis until further testing.” On an intellectual level, I concur. Yet, for someone in my position, what appears to be happening is akin to a bug hitting a vehicle’s windshield, driving 40 miles onward, and the bug’s brother hitting the same spot. ‘Undue concern’ is out the door.

There can be panic, disappointment, or desperation. For those who don’t know what it’s like to find out that something terrible may have returned, it’s the realization you’ll either be consumed from the inside to the outside or suffer a personal version of Custer at ‘Little Big Horn’ (nothing survived). As I feel life’s finish line approaching, I don’t have undue envy of those who get to live carefree existence or experience long-term retirement. I certainly do not obsess about trivial problems. I neither whine about ‘why me’ or ‘why not me.’ I don’t fret over any potential injustice, for it was dispensed through my thoughtlessness. I have seen different pieces of people’s lives. And what hits me the most is acknowledging I may not be able to stop or postpone my mortality, even for a bit. Insane things happen to good people much better than I. And sadly, we must learn to accept this, even when we do not want to. Thus, I have to admit my limitations.

One of the questions I ponder comes from the heart. ‘Is there a right and a wrong way to grieve?’ Even with a recurring tumor, my body is mine. The cancer is not some misguided artifact from a distant galaxy that landed on my neck one day. My body grew it. Yet, in all my appearances, have I mourned my body? Have I grieved well? Yet, death is something we’ll all experience. Still, have I felt it? Have I beared it.

During the first night after my tumor diagnosis in 2019, I laid in bed, unable to sleep. It wasn’t because I felt suffocated; it’s just I envisioned myself walking down a long narrow passageway to whatever comes next (not this life, but the next). Yet, over the past several years, I walk deliberately, full of dignity. And in that walk, I learned something significant: Life is not about loss, but rather about healing and our formidable capacity to regather and forgive, even in the bleakest of circumstances.