Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cancer Freedom in Every Way

Read these first:
T Minus Four Days
T Minus Two Days

It’s an arbitrary date, a point on the concave function that always approaches cancer deliverance but never quite reaches it.

For the risk of recurrence, two years cancer-free is better than one year. Five years is better than two. And ten years is better than five. But the risk of recurrence gets exponentially smaller to the point where some doctors—people who are trained to be cautious with words—say we’re cured at five years. Many doctors and patients themselves are reluctant to use that word, including me. I’m not superstitious, but maybe the Cancer fairy is.

Five years ago those pure, clean stem cells with no sign of leukemia, no sign of mutation at the seventh chromosome, entered my bloodstream in a flurry like that of a Muhammad Ali combination. All those tiny, microscopic cells honing in on their target, the center of my large bones, fending off any unwanted intruders, cooperating with the rest of my body, repopulating, saturating. Giving me a new chance, new hope, new life.

Hospitals graduate patients when they reach five years cancer-free, kick them to the curb and tell them not to come back. It already happened to me once, and may happen again in Minnesota next month when I see Dr. Andre Million for possibly the final time. Graduation sounds good. Graduation from my second and final cancer sounds even better. Never graduating again, unless I go to graduate school, sounds the best of all.

Right now my risk of getting cancer is nearly as low as it will be for the rest of my life. In eight years my risk of developing soft tissue tumors rises. The same goes for colon cancer in 10 years and prostate cancer in 20. But fuck it. I’ve never concerned myself with negative thoughts like that and I’m not about to start now.

It just so happens that I’m also about as healthy and physically strong as I’ve ever been. But a preschool immune system and less than 10% body fat do not protect me from cancer. That’s what my organic Gala apples are for.

Today and this weekend I celebrate my graduation, my accomplishment, the same one so many others would do anything for, have done everything for, some successfully and some coming up short. I celebrate the point on the curve that some, not I, call “CURED.” And I celebrate life. L’chayim!


Anonymous said...

I don't usually comment on your blog. You prefer the more humorous responses. But we celebrate with you with great delight and anticipation for your future. We, too, refuse to allow negative thoughts. You are a remarkable person. We love you.

Jonathan Rubenstein said...

Congrats Benjamin! What a great thing to celebrate.

Finn said...

Congratulations Benjamin!! And all the best to you in the future.

Anonymous said...

Thi is my first comment on your blog although I read you blog each day. On this occasion of you completing 5 years cancer free, my prayers have been answered and I am joyous on your continued return to full health. God bless you. Love, Dad

Anonymous said...


I admire your spirit and enthusiasm

God will bless in the day's ahead

Take a peek at my medical website on cancer.


Clare said...

Hey hot stuff.

You cant tell me how happy this post made me. When you get to Chicago, beer's on me.