Update #21 – Life’s Unpredictable Beauty and Tragedy

This photo has nothing to do with my post. I just couldn’t find an image that fit the topic to my liking, so I decided to go with one of my recent pieces from a class with Eni Oken.

In 2014, when I was diagnosed, my son was in 5th grade and my ambitious goal was to live to see him graduate elementary school. Next year he is set to graduate high school (zoinks!). In the meantime, countless people who, in 2014, we thought would be here in 2020 are instead tragically gone. I think of this every time I learn of untimely deaths: Pulse nightclub, Tree of Life synagogue, Parkland, Brionna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbrey, George Floyd, Philando Castille, 100k+ Americans dead due to COVID, so many lung cancer patients diagnosed well after me, yet sprinted “ahead” of me … the list is endless.

Surviving beyond anyone’s reasonable expectations, while witnessing so many others do the reverse, is a very strange thing to wrap my head around. Life is so unpredictable in ways both beautiful and tragic. Awareness of my mortality is still very much at the forefront of my mind. My daughter just finished middle school and asked me to write a letter to her for a time capsule she will open upon graduating high school in 4 years. That was a tough assignment — what to write when I know the odds that I’ll be here when she reads the letter are low, but then again … who knows? Scarier by far, where’s the guarantee that she’ll be here? I read somewhere that a giant asteroid is headed close to Earth soon, so maybe we’re all headed the way of the dinosaurs. With the way 2020’s been going, I honestly can’t decide if that would be a good or a bad thing.

In any case, the point of this blog is to report that, in late May, I did my regular 12 week round of scans and got the beautiful news that everything is unchanged, no active cancer. I delayed posting this update because it felt so incongruous with the incessant stream of tragic news. Additionally, my 17 year old has been dealing with his own medical condition; he had hip-replacement surgery in the midst of a global pandemic last week. (The Goldmans are doing our part to keep the medical economy afloat.) My focus has been elsewhere, and it seemed like my blessedly boring, stable scans didn’t rate a mention. 

And yet, I feel that it’s unfair to go radio-silent for all my friends and family that worry about me, and all the members of the lung cancer community who need to hear the good news stories in order to keep going. Hope is a powerful, necessary thing. So I offer this Update #21 in the spirit of supplying a bit of beauty to help us withstand and hopefully stem some of the tragedy. Please be well, wear your masks (seriously – this pandemic thing is so not over, you impatient mofos), and do something today to help tip the balance away from tragedy and toward beauty.


A couple of links to share:

— The bi-weekly Coronavirus & Lung Cancer: Joint Statement from Lung Cancer Advocacy Groups continues to be a great resource. 

— Tori Tomalia and I did a podcast about the ROS1ders a little while ago, you can find it here https://www.trapelohealth.com/ros1ders.