Knowing not knowing

“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

It’s been a while. Nine months actually. Since I last posted anything on this blog, we’ve moved, de-cluttered, partly decorated, loosely agreed on the planting of our first garden in over twenty years and, weather permitting, tentatively explored new surroundings. In short, we’re resettling and we’re blissfully happy.

All this activity whilst keeping a close eye on Mags’ health, which has been and is, as I type, good. The telephone consultation with her oncologist, last September, was positive. In fact he was happy to wait until June before catching up again. But in late February a ‘surveillance’ CT scan was scheduled as part of the surgical team’s post-op protocol. We would receive an update from the surgeon in early March. 

The call came and, after a considerable preamble, he said, “Unfortunately the scan shows ‘spots’ on the lungs. Pulmonary metastases. ”He concluded with, “I’m sorry it’s not better news, but it is what it is. I’ve made an urgent referral to your oncologist. Take care.”

A  video consultation with the oncologist took place four days later. He is an absolute star, and began by kindly asking us what we understood from the scan results. We responded with our own frank appraisal. 

The ‘spots’ are extremely small and they have taken the best part of two years to make themselves visible to imaging equipment. With that in mind, the oncologist recommends periodic reviews and scans. In his words, “The way forward from here is as much art as it is science.”

The next scan is scheduled for early June, and should provide a clearer picture of how this wretched disease is progressing. The aim, obviously, is to keep Mags as well as possible for as long as possible. Palliative chemo will be an option, but as far as Mags is concerned, not a certainty. We continue to process the incontrovertible facts amid relentless and unpredictable waves of doubt and dilemma just now.

As things stand, we are going about the everyday business of living but carefully avoiding the stress of making every second count. Anyone who has been at the sharp end of cancer knows that summoning the resolve to fill every moment with something meaningful and unforgettable is very much the exception, not the rule. We’re much more likely to be navigating through reduced visibility or talking ourselves in and out of the darkest corners of our shared existence. The one clear certainty is, we now know ourselves and one another far more intimately than we could ever have imagined possible. Our mantra remains unchanged. Take every day, one step at a time.

2 thoughts on “Knowing not knowing

  1. “The sharp end of cancer…” I hate this for you and Mags but it seems you are navigating it well. The oncologist sounds wise, as are you two–no frantic pursuit pf bucket lists–just pleasure in the small, everyday things. Blessings and love to both of you.


  2. Your clear affection for each other and solidarity must be an enormous source of strength as you face these challenges. I’m so glad that you have your new place and surroundings to explore together.


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