Good News / Bad News

I realize I generated a bit of a suspense by not updating with the results of my MRI on Tuesday (thanks to all of you who messaged me individually asking what happened).  While that cliffhanger was unintentional, it did get me thinking about the power of this narrative tool (and this blog is turning into a bit of a narrative, isn’t it?), and so now I fully admit that the title of this post and now the length of this sentence (nay, this paragraph) are totally on purpose designed to continue the suspense just a bit further.  Because I know what happened on Tuesday.  I know exactly what the doctor told me.  But (some of) you don’t.

See how suspenseful this is getting?  But I can’t abuse it.  I mean if I just started talking about chicken tikka masala right now, or how funny the Meaning of Life is, that would be pushing the cliffhanger a bit too far now, wouldn’t it?  It would probably just be annoying.  So I’d better cut to the chase, right?  Right.  OK.  I’ll cut to the chase.  So here’s the chase…

The good news?  The MRI looked good.

The bad news?  I have brain cancer.

Sorry to douse the upbeatity of the first fact with the cold reality of the second, but I can’t resist.  I can’t resist for two reasons:

1) As a writer, I’m continually fascinated by the power of the words “I have brain cancer.”  It gets me every time.  And in a funny way.  It’s hard to think of something more shocking you can say to someone (or can hear yourself say) than “I have brain cancer!”  There are some close rivals, like “I just shit my pants” and “I think I’d like to murder a hooker,” but “I have brain cancer” really stands its own with the best of them.  And the brevity– it’s only four words!
16 letters that just knock your fuckin’ socks off!  Say it out loud with me:  “Hey!  Dad!  I have brain cancer!!”   How can that not make you laugh?  I need to get some t-shirts printed up.

2) What were we talking about?  Oh yeah:

2) The other reason I can’t resist pointing out that I have brain cancer (this is where the post starts getting less funny) is that… I have brain cancer.  (Why are you laughing?  You cold hearted son of a bitch, I just said I have BRAIN CANCER!)  No, I mean it (this is where the post really starts getting less funny)– after I got the results of my MRI, I sat there in the doctor’s office feeling… not relieved.  Why was I not relieved?  I’d felt better the morning before I went into the MRI machine (when I wrote this post) because I was excited.  Things were happening.  But now, afterward, with a “clean” MRI on my brain, I felt… kind of disappointed, to be honest.  Let down.  Because this didn’t reflect how I felt, or how I had been feeling.  How I still feel.

So I texted a friend of mine, My One Friend Who Totally Understands What It’s Like To Feel Like You’re Dying, and asked her why I wasn’t relieved.  Her immediate response: “Because they didn’t just tell you you’re cured.”  She was right.  They didn’t tell me that.  So I think that’s why the good news didn’t win the day for me: because I still (and probably always will, until I don’t) have brain cancer.  And there’s nothing hilarious about that.

So now that I’ve beat you up with my jokes and my suspense tricks, I’ll cut to more chasing and drop some succinct and brassy tacks real fast:

  • The MRI showed that the tumor cavity was even less cancery-looking than the previous MRI.  It was, in fact, un-cancery enough that Doctor Who actually used the word “impressive” to describe the results.  Impressive!  My (lack of) brain cancer is “impressive”!
  • We both laughed at how the tumor cavity from the MRI in December looked like a cheap Scooby Doo ghost.  A g-g-g-g-ghoooossst!  (Scroll down to the bottom to see the picture.)
  • I remembered to ask Doctor Who about the seizures & smoothies!  Actually I totally forgot, but then after I left I remembered and ran back in and found him.  “What’s up with all the smoothies?” I asked, “is that always a sign of cancer on the brain, like you said?  Or could it just be the hole in my head and/or healing process that’s causing them?”  And you know what he said?  “Great question!”  That’s what he said!  And like a total Brain Cancer Class Nerd I smiled and my eyes twinkled, and he answered me:  “Actually those seizure symptoms do not specifically mean cancer.  It could totally just be from the hole, or from healing, or from drinking, or even from murdering hookers.”*    (*note, some of this dialogue has been fictionalized, but the gist is true.  I asked a great question, and I got a great answer.)
  • So I feel a bit better about the smoothies & seizures– or at least I feel better about their cause.  Practically speaking though, in terms of their effect on my life, they’re still somewhere between Pain In The Ass and Total Fucking Nightmare.
  • In addition to the above, I still totally feel like shit, so all the good news (frankly) has less practical bearing on my life than the bad.
  • But I’m still here!
  • Oh and Doctor Who and I decided that I will stop taking the Temodar™, effective immediately.  To give my body, and my brain, a rest.  Which is great, because then maybe I’ll start feeling better.  Although reports from other Brain Chancers tell me that it takes 6 months, even a year to get back to “normal” after you stop taking this stuff.  And maybe taking this stuff is the only reason I’ve even made it a year… but I don’t want to feel like this anymore.  Even though I’m alive, it’s really getting in the way of me feeling like I’m alive.  So I’m stopping.  And I feel good about that.

See how tricky this whole having brain cancer thing is?


If you look carefully, you can see me and Doctor Who laughing in the reflection off the monitor.

7 thoughts on “Good News / Bad News

  1. In my email I just saw the Bad News part of the subject line and my heart just sank. Good to know it was just my morning vision! I don’t know you from Adam (I am taking a moment to look up that phrase) and found your blog a while ago, probably searching for travel blogs. Anyway, I want to thank you for sharing your journey with strangers. Your humor and insights have made me feel like I know you – or at least a part of your life anyway. your story gives me more compassion for others in the world; I don’t know their struggles. Every day is not peachy for you and by reaching out you make it a bit better – for yourself and now you know – for others. Hugs! Kim

  2. Well you may have brain cancer but by the content of your writing, you have excellent brain function. Can’t stop, once started, reading you words. I wish I had that talent. Len in Houma, La. wishing you well.

    Sent from my iPad

  3. Chad thanks for keeping us all updated. I love your way with words. My son Paul was having seizure auras the other day and he said I think I am having a smoothie. Obviously he had read your post. Really happy about the results of the MRI. I shared the good news with Aunt Dot now that she is living with me. Thought it best not to let her read the post herself . It made her day. Yes you still have brain cancer, but don’t forget miracles do happen and that is what I pray for you. Instead of ghost I prefer to see an angel in that cancer cavity. Well wishes cousin Beth.

  4. Chad,
    I was introduced to your blog by a deceased friend’s husband. Her cancer was first detected in her lungs and quickly moved all over her body including her brain. She fought hard but lost the battle after a short 5 1/2 months. I often wish she had been able to write about what she was going through but the disease did not allow that. Her life touched many and she never gave up. I appreciate your writings and know that your family and friends do as well. God will never leave you nor forsake you and I pray for His divine healing for you.

  5. Hi there! I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but I love your blog. It is a true talent to be able to make people chuckle when reading about someone’s struggle with brain cancer. My dad had brain cancer. Your words are read over here in Atlanta and I’m touched by your honesty. Thank you for writing!!!

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