"Good Cancer" my ass

Some phrases are nails on a chalkboard. When I was a kid, it was the grown-ups’ substitution of  “We’ll see” for “No, but I don’t want to fight about it right now.” When I got a little older, it was any cop-out relationship phrase like “We have to talk” or “It’s not you, it’s me.” All the obvious lies used as escape hatches.

Last week, I heard the worst yet: “It’s a good cancer.”

Dan found an extra Adam’s apple about a month ago. We got the biopsy results last week. From Dan’s description of the appointment, I imagined the doctor delivering the news to Dan with a hearty handshake -- “Great news! It’s malignant!”

Then I imagined punching her in the nose.

The doctor shooed Dan out the door with an oncologist’s card and parting words like “simple surgery” and “90% cure rate.” She tossed off the same breezy percentage about thyroid nodules when he first went in a month ago-- “Over 90% are benign!” Maybe her nonchalance is supposed to be comforting confidence; I find it dismissive. Now that otherwise-encouraging percentage feels like somebody’s crying wolf.

But then, I’m in the minority. I hate falseness; I’m a straight facts girl. I want to know all the gory details about the hard road. I want to be prepared for that other 10%, just in case. I have a contingency plan for everything.

Dan, on the other hand... when I ask him, “How do they know it hasn’t spread?”-- his answer was a mystified “Huh! I didn’t even think about that!” What? How could you not think about that?

But then-- this is why we’re so damned good together. He lifts me up, and I ground him. He sees the perfect ending and I line up stepping stones to get there.

He was cracking jokes within a few minutes of delivering the word ‘carcinoma’ to our doorstep. Not to purposely lighten the mood, the way I would, but because he’s just really funny. I felt guilty laughing, like we should be more somber. But-- well, he’s right to be normal and funny. I mean, no one died or anything. And 90% is a really high number.

Still-- Dan’s nature baffles me. I’m always asking him about it, trying to figure out how he ticks. Maybe so I can channel some of his unflappable optimism for myself.

“I don’t understand it. How can you be joking? I mean, I love you, but are you in total denial or what?”

“No, no honey. I’m not in denial. I’ve processed it and moved on. We’re already in recovery.”

For Dan, there is no “getting there.” You’re “here” and then you’re “there.” He sees a mountain, he goes toward the mountain; the mountain is all he sees.

My sister says, “Well, they say healing is 90% attitude, and Dan’s got that coming out his ears.”

That’s a 90% I can get behind.


  1. AWWWWWW sh*$t.

    Maarit, are you serious??? I mean, of course you are, but wow, you and your family have had enough ups and downs... what is the universe playing at?

    I am certain it is as the doctor said, he will heal and be a-okay, but that doesn't ease the worry.
    xoxoxoxoxoxoxo... you are in my thoughts sweetie!

  2. I know, it's ridiculous, right? But my life is kinda ridiculous; I just roll with it. Thanks for the good thoughts. :) xoxo

  3. Hey, I've never met Dan, but I feel a connection now that we've got something in common. Although my cells were not cancer, if left they most certainly will be someday in the future. So they must be eliminated.
    So glad he had the biopsy. When is his surgery? I am still waiting to hear from the surgeons to do the consult. I am hoping for December. My endocrinologist said 6 weeks. But it's been a couple weeks since then, and I have still not heard from the surgeons.
    Oh, and my cortisol levels were checked. They are low. That explains a lot. Like the off pigmentation of my skin, my body's inability to regulate temperature, my craving for sugar, my skinny-ness... so their gonna do more tests, to check for cushings, to check my adrenal glad and such. Fun times. I just want to be well.
    Dan will be well. Good thoughts come from me too.

  4. I'm so sorry to hear this, friend. You guys are in my thoughts. *Hugs* to all. And if you want, I'll send you some cookies. ;)