Entrance was obtained through first ignoring a sore throat for several months.  Then when its persistence bothered me I went to an Urgent Care clinic. Strep infection was eliminated quickly.  I was referred to a private oncologist.   She did the biopsy that led her in my follow-up visit to gleefully burst into the patient exam room with her results.  I’d returned after a week’s time, and she beamed” Yes; it’s malignant,” like she’d just discovered a jewel of some sort in a stone she’d stumbled upon in a geologist’s hike somewhere.  “Thanks lady.  you made my day.  You happy now.”   I was aghast at her lack of reserve in sharing decidedly bad news.

“Thanks [for your breaking it to me gently!], I thought.  Geesh!  [“You know you just announced a change to my whole life,” chimed from some movie or play or script I’d seen many times before.  It is the ringing of the “C” bell in a person’s life.  sort of like you come home from work after a regular long day, walk in your door, and there’s a big brass bell there and it just was gonged big time.  The reverberations ring not just in your ears but in your entire body.  Whether loud of soft the news doth shake you.

The shock it is called when an announcement has the effect of a bomb, that is an explosive concussion that has long term or devastating effects on the environment it which it lands.  I just remember chiding the doctor for her total lack of concern oh how her payload words might affect me.  I’d already seen she was loathe to answer questions.  “Why does it seem that I am doing all the (communication) work here,” I’d asked.   She’d demurred then and in the prior intervening visit with her behind the cloak of medical caution.  “We don’t want speculate before we have the (determining) lab results.”

In this divide lay the canyon I’d just entered.  Like the Colorado river in the Grand Canyon the to-be-named exact type of carcinoma flowed between my person on the South Rim and the clinical world on the North rim.  Never the two should meet as my process began.  I was to handle the intruding news, the “uninvited guest,” as I named the throat cancer and found that nomenclature quite completely divorced from how the medical technical world of physicians viewed and responded to this invader of MY Body!

So was the beginning of this forced odyssey.  It was like I’d rolled out of bed and out of a dream to hit the floor wearing a uniform of the French Foreign Legion bivouacked in the Sahara somewhere.  Subconscious and conscious, body and soul, mind and body were in a game called “Switch” in which all systems were flipped at the breaker box and all circuits were reset.  My OS {operating system} had had its motherboard hit by a message of a new voltage.

An odd irony of medical import going straight into my self-image and identity, the very parameters of one’s Self.  That is what news with implication of mortality holds. One moment you are a free agent; the next you have an unexpected roommate sharing a confined space, your very personal space!  The effects were to be many.

They roll out on what I learned only can be called a roller coaster ride.  They took place inexorable  and slowly over the coming days and week, no months.   And that is my story here.  How time in this ride telescopes in or out, into long or short days, while up and down you go, your mind and your coping skills.  Pleasure and pain, suffering and strengths, what your mind and body pay attention to or take for granted moment to moment or minute to minute – all are thrown dice-like on to the new flat table of your life.  You are a craps table in somebody else’s casino somewhere.  And you don’t even gamble!  But of a sudden, this unbidden notice has taken the chips of ‘fate’ that always reside in you, and turned them into real chip that you recall are owned by the Other, by the casino.  Your life is no longer your own under the terms of your new tenant.

That’s the notice hung on one’s neck like the sign of the albatross:  Time, Ownership, and the infinite of your life are at once turned finite, measurable and immeasurable in deep   As Rod Serling said long ago, “You’ve entered a place of unexpected turns and unknown outcomes; you’ve entered the “Twilight zone.”  Your life is now a TV program in which you star and watch simultaneously,  “Voila’!”

More deeply the ability to witness, to observe myself observing, watching how I respond as I respond to this news and its daily consequences is the matter that matters more.  Follow, and you shall see.  One’s relationship with oneself can be radically transformed!