This was my last visit

By Andy Betz

My oncologist went through the details of the procedure, as he does every time.  He calls me lucky that it was caught early.  The cancer remained localized and I held up well to treatments to external beam radiation therapy.

The doc was correct.  I was indeed lucky.

I had the support of my pertinacity in the medical library to become an expert on prostate cancer, the consequences of treatment, and survival rates.  Of the last, for my prostate cancer, I am particularly lucky.  I could have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  95% beats 11% any day of the week.  Twice on Sunday.

I am now fifty pounds lighter.  My skin hangs loose on my chest and across my abdomen.  I once sported straight brown hair.  Today, I no longer require the use of a comb or shampoo.

My blue eyes, previously rivaling Paul Newman, now have a gray tint, mirroring a Siberian husky sporting a 1000 yard stare.

I get polite compliments about my eyes.  Pity looks about everything else.

My oncologist suggested I should speak to someone.  Someone who “helps” cancer survivors find a new purpose in their new life.  I hear what he says, but I am not listening today.  Today, I am interested in the details of my last treatment.  I heard his lecture half a dozen times before.  I signed the release form for the 7th time, just as he predicted when I began treatment in the spring.  

I should be excited, possibly giddy, but I am not.  As serious as the good doctor is, is as serious as I remain.  Perhaps I am superstitious.  I have made it this far without incident.  This is my life.

The procedure takes just under an hour.  I rest in an outpatient waiting room for another.  With my second hand Goodwill cane, I am adamant about leaving under my own power.  My doctor has a policy of mandatory wheelchair use.  I am adamant about retaining the last vestiges of my ego.  It is a brief contest of wills between us.  Ten minutes of obstinate stares pass before he blinks.  Then smiles.  As I walk away, the receptionist says her final farewell.

I have a new lease on life.  Tomorrow, I will turn 42.  I am going to reset the clock to 40.  The sun looks rather bright today.

Maybe it will be again tomorrow.

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Andy Betz has tutored and taught in excess of 40 years, lives in 1974, and has been married for 30 years.  His works are found everywhere a search engine operates.

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