Thursday, November 15, 2007

November 15, 2007 - Stable

I’m thinking, today, about a word I heard yesterday on the telephone: the word is “stable.” I was speaking to a nurse from Dr. Lerner’s office about the CT scan I had last Thursday. I hadn’t heard any results, so I thought I’d give a call and find out what they’d heard from the radiologist. When the nurse called back a little later, she said Dr. Lerner had asked her to pass on the message that my cancer is stable.

“Stable, as in no growth?” I asked.

“Yes, it looks just the same as your last scan,” she replied.

I asked her to repeat it, just to be sure. “This is good news,” she reiterated. “No growth.”

I’m not scheduled to see Dr. Lerner until December 12th, so I won’t have an opportunity to question him in detail until then. For now, I can only receive this update with guarded optimism.

It’s not completely good news. The cancer’s still there, after all. But, I’ll take “no growth” over the alternative, any time.

I’ve had other scans when the results were “no change” – but these were all while I was in remission. This is the first time I’ve been out of remission and had the “no growth” result.

That means there’s active cancer inside me, but it’s not doing much of anything. It’s just hanging around, like gang members on a street corner. The cops may be eyeing them nervously, but there’s nothing they can do. Just stay vigilant.

So, that’s where I am right now. The cancer is still there, but it’s stable. While it may be menacing, it’s not immediately dangerous. So, we just continue to keep an eye on it.

During my sabbatical year, I spent a week on retreat at the Benedictine Monastery of Christ in the Desert, in northern New Mexico. Reading about the Benedictine Order in preparation for that experience, I recalled something I’d learned in church history class, back in seminary: that stability is considered a good thing in the monastic world. It’s a positive virtue. The Latin word they use to describe it is statio, as in “stationed” or “stationary.” On one level, it means a monk typically resides in a single monastery for life. Requests for transfers from one monastery to another are never granted casually, and then only for a good reason. On another level, statio suggests an island of peace in a chaotic world. It’s a stoic determination to make the best of where you are, to bloom where you’re planted, to praise God for life and receive it thankfully.

So, my cancer is stable. The spiritual challenge for me, in these days, is in learning to practice that sort of statio in my own life. As always, it’s a question of learning to live with cancer. Those leather-jacketed toughs are going to be lounging around for a while, it seems. I guess I’d better get used to them.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Carl,
My daughter Jamie Lees mentioned to me that you are out of remission and gave me your web site. Just read your latest good news about no growth. Very happy to hear that but we will keep you in our prayers just the same. Friday night I sent messages to the White House and the two state Represenatives and have received comformations pf receipt back from W.H. and Rep. Smith. It never ceases to amaze me how these situations come to be.
Fred Jaekels
fjaekels102@comcast.net

Anonymous said...

Good results!

If visualization can help, I can think of little better than the view out those monastery windows!

Robin

Anonymous said...

Carl,
As you requested, I have spoken with offices of my Senators and Rep. here in NYC.

Hope it helps!

Rosemarie

Carlos ("Carl") said...

Fred, Robin & Rosemarie, thanks for your good wishes, and also for contacting our Senators and Representative!

Carl