Calculating risk

Thursday I traversed the frozen surface of the pond for perhaps the last time this season. The ice is thinning quickly. I had on my rubber boots and stayed what I felt to be a safe distance from shore: should I break through, the water would not be over my head. I got some fantastic photos and considered the little adventure a success. However, over dinner that evening when I mentioned that I’d been on the pond earlier, David and Peter were furious. Peter wouldn’t calm down until I promised I wouldn’t go out again.

I have always considered fear the enemy; something to conquer and overcome and I’ve had a lot of practice. Being risk adverse and scrappy has been an asset now that I have lung cancer.  As a participant in a phase I clinical trial, there is the potential for unforeseen and possibly life threatening side effects of treatment itself. Before you are given your first dose of an experimental drug, you must read through and sign consent forms which acknowledge this risk. It is something most healthy persons would never do. When you have a terminal illness, it is similar to coming to the edge of a ravine with a tiger on your trail. Between you and safety is a rickety bridge that may or may not support your weight. However, even chancy passage is an easy decision when the alternative is certain death.

Last week, the first night in the hospital, I pumped Dr. Shaw for information regarding the worst case scenario. She hesitated, but I assured her that knowing helped me feel more in control. When David had to leave for home, I told him goodbye and that I loved him and that if anything happened, I was so sorry (I figured that covered pretty much everything).

That night, when I finally fell asleep, I  dreamt I was kneeling in a field next to a man who seemed to sparkle with light, as if he were made of fireflies. And then I recognized the sparkling figure; it was my Grandpa Roy. It’s been almost thirty five years since my grandfather passed, and I was shaken the following morning. It was almost as if I’d paid a visit to the narrow place between life and death.

It was merely a dream. My enzyme values continue to fall. Slowly. It is a time for patience, and that is a virtue I cannot claim.

10 responses to “Calculating risk

  1. Yes, fear is the enemy, but if any one can conquer it in your situation, I trust you will! I believe in you and your strength. With God’s help, you will beat this whole cancer thing!

    I agree–patience is hard to come by.

    Love you, Linnea.

  2. Carol Ann Shanklin

    I’d like to ditto Aunt Carolyn’s post, 100%! Praying for you! If anyone can beat it, with God’s help I believe you can!!

  3. Dear Linnea,

    I do suppose once you’d discussed ALL scenarios with Dr Shaw it was inevitable that your mind would have to process it all. I hope it didn’t depress you too much.

    How interesting that it took you back 35 years to your Grandfather. It is truly amazing how the human mind works. You must have had a wonderful relationship with Grandpa Roy. But similarly the mind can protect and galvanise you too. Maybe you are entering a period when patience and reflection are your new travelling partners?

    May all the rickety bridges ahead hold you … but on a lighter note, you did make me re-watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail’s Bridgekeeper – Three questions scene … depends on whether you like their humour, but laughter is a universal medicine. Well worth a giggle.

    Hugs, strength (and patience)
    David x

    • Dear David, you win. Now I’m laughing at myself and my oh so serious metaphor. The only thing lacking in your comment was a link to said clip:


  4. Linnea, you are such a spirited traveler of this planet, I love that about you. I have found that courage takes so many forms as we experience cancer ourselves or though a loved one’s experience. I remember when Silas was needing blood transfusions as things progressed with his lung cancer; the doctor told him all of the risks of a transfusion, to which Silas replied that he had more imminent concerns. So crazy that choices of the “best worst thing” have to be made at times. I hate that, and all this disease brings with it. Save for the love and compassion we find within ourselves and others, and the realization that perhaps love is what this life is really all about. I am thinking of you so much my friend, and choose to believe that your Grandpa Roy did pay a visit to you, to let you know that “every little thing is gonna be alright” and that he is here with you during this journey~ love you

  5. Hey Linnea- make sure you get your favorite color straight!

    I too think your dream heralded good things. And I don’t think, but I know, that love is what life is all about. That is what my husband taught me.

    Love you girl

  6. Carol Ann Shanklin

    I had never watched that movie. Too funny! Will have to rent now! I’m going to have to agree with Joan: be sure you get your favorite color straight! 🙂
    carol ann

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