One year after the diagnosis

About one year ago, I was in New York for an NY Review of SF series reading and an Hour of the Wolf radio interview. I was also waiting for the results of a biopsy that I was pretty sure would show that I had cancer in the lymph nodes of my neck. My biggest uncertainty was the type of cancer. Still, there’s some difference between pretty sure and certain.

The day after the reading and before the interview, I was in a meeting with my agent when the call came in from my doctor. I got the diagnosis: a somewhat aggressive squamous cell cancer that had spread into my lymph nodes. I finished up the meeting as calmly but as rapidly as I could.

The internet is a wonderful tool, but in this instance the data was older and broader than my actual situation, and it convinced me that I’d received a sentence of imminent death.

That night, I did the radio interview. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a recording of it. During the interview, I acted happy about the recent release of my first book and life generally. I think my performance deserved an Oscar.

I took the early morning Amtrak home, and that day I began the series of doctor’s visits that resulted in my treatment.

Fortunately, the internet data prophesying my demise was exaggerated. I completed my treatment last fall, and my prognosis is excellent. I’m feeling good. But it’s been a very long year.