Happy Tuesday—and a beautiful one at that!
So one little quick thing about me.
(BECAUSE I AM A MILLENNIAL, IZ ALL ABOUT ME, BABY.)
A couple months ago, my mom was diagnosed with late stage lung cancer.
We were totally blindsided, and it hit us like a punch to the gut.
In terms of cancers, lung cancer is especially aggressive, first because by the time most people find out about it, it’s already pretty advanced, and also because once it starts to metastasize, it does so quickly, spreading to all the important parts of your body, like the liver, like the brain.
And cancer is already this inherently unfair thing, but for a nonsmoker, the arrival of lung cancer can feel particularly cruel.
It’s also the type of cancer, especially late in the game, that doesn’t respond much, if at all, to chemotherapy.
“Do you really want to know?” the nice doctor asked us, when we pushed him for a prognosis. (As it happened, Dr. Isbell lost his father to lung cancer as a teen. He spoke to us with the knowing eye of someone who shared our pain, our sudden sense of hopelessness.)
“Not in public. Do that at home,” my dad commanded, when I collapsed in grief, overwhelmed by the strike of ruthless lightning, the uncaring chime of the universe’s unknowing probabilities.
“I’m scared,” my mom would later tell me, the prospect of debilitating chemo on her mind.
All told, we maybe had only a couple of short months to basically just get our things in order. That was it.
While my dad brought out the cake during my birthday dinner a couple weeks ago, my mom burst into tears, consumed by the knowledge that this was likely the last birthday she’d share with her little boy. (A little boy who happened to be 31 now.)
The funny thing about arbitrary tragedy is how it puts everything into laser focus. For us, there was life before cancer, and life after it.
Life after it sucked really bad, but in a way, it was also beautiful. It brought our family together in a way we hadn’t experienced since we first came to America, when we were dirt poor, but when times were simpler—when all we had was each other.
And such is life, the circle completes itself.
Throughout your life, you fight for some semblance, some fantasy of control, but in the end, it’s only when you accept what you can’t control do you truly feel free. After that, all you can do is fight.
For the past couple months, that’s exactly what we did. We fought.
And no one fought more bravely than the woman who brought me into this world, the woman whose unconditional love made me the man I am today.
It is maybe a little bit ironic then that, as a person who talks about stuff every day, I’ve had tremendous difficulty talking about this particular thing. I’m not sure that it’s been helpful, either, keeping it bottled up. But at the same time, there’s no playbook for grief, there’s no paint by numbers when it comes to unexpected tragedy. I told people as necessary, as it came up for this reason or that, but for the most part, I kept it inside, distracting myself by focusing on the tasks at hand, of which there were many.
Which is also why I am so happy about today.
Because today, I get to not only tell you guys about this struggle that I’ve been going through but at the same time, share some really, really good news.
Yesterday, we got back the pathology report on my mom’s cancer, which I guess, tests for various genetic markings and whatnot, and, lo and behold, we got a handful of matches for which there are some really, really promising and effective targeted treatments.
Promising and effective enough that, maybe we can, rather than think in terms of months, start thinking in terms of years.
I’ve never felt more blessed.
And it was really important to me that I share that with you guys.
I love you all.