I’m living a thought experiment.
Tomorrow I find out whether I stand a 98% chance of living for the next five years…
…or a 72% chance of dying before my birthday in 2021.
…or if I will live something in between, a limbo of 21% chance of metastasis–the equivalent of blindly walking into a hostage situation every day for the next five years just to see if it’s me that gets shot instead.
I’m trapped in this box of not knowing. I’m Schrodinger’s Cat. No one knows if I’m living or dead until they open the box.
The cruel part is that several people already know my fate–have known since November 22, when my test was completed and the results sent to my doctor and the bill presented to my insurance company.
Castle Biosciences, in preemptively sending me paperwork on how to appeal my insurance company’s decision not to cover the test, inadvertently ratted out my doctor. The doctor’s office has had the results for three weeks, half of my recovery time since the surgeries.
My entire doctor’s office knows, and I don’t. Neither do my parents, my sister, my husband, my daughter, my friends. None of the people who actively care about me on a daily basis know whether the cat is living or dead.
And yet…as much as I want to be angry about it, I can’t be.
What if it’s Type 1A? Just how badly might have I ignored this drastic lesson? What if I’d treated it as some kind of bad dream and suddenly moved on with my checked-out life without having learned to consider my days? A 98% chance of being fine is not the same thing as 100%, and this is not the only cancer I’m at risk for.
What if it’s Type 1B? I’d have received that 20% limbo diagnosis without having time to practice better eating, to process the conflicting information about melanoma diets and risk factors, to consider exactly what I’m going to have to do to put my legal life in order before I leave a mess behind.
What if it’s Type 2? Would that diagnosis have shattered me a few weeks ago, when I was physically torn up and mentally wrecked and emotionally bruised beyond recognition? If the difference between surviving cancer and dying from cancer is all in my attitude, then finding out that I had a 72% chance of metastasis might have killed me outright. Oh, I’d have been walking around still, but inside…that might have been another story.
Instead, I’ve had six weeks to heal, and those six weeks have been just long enough for me to arrive at physical comfort again and think clearly…and come to a conclusion.
It doesn’t matter what the test results say.
If I’m likely to die in the next five years, then I need to be living fully, now don’t I?
If I’ve been given a reprieve, then I still need to be living fully.
And if I’m in limbo, well, then I need to be living fully and finally pay as much attention to my own well-being as I’ve often paid to others’.
I’m Schrodinger’s Cat, yes.
But, technically…aren’t we all?