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12-18 March 2001
Ninth week: Break

12 March 2001:
The entire weekend my Internet service provider, the university, was disconnected from the rest of the world. No access to e-mails etc. I have no idea why we were disconnected, perhaps the rain on Friday last week was a bit too much. My little town experienced the worst rains for decades and the little suburb we are living in was even mentioned in the national news as having been one of the hardest hit. Well, I can assure you it rained cats and dogs for 4 hours, but that was it.

Not really. On Saturday morning I found out that my modem was defunct. It didn't respond to anything, so I bought a new one because I hoped the connection to e-mail etc. would come back. I was wrong, but the modem's right.

The Australian version of the English language contains an interesting aspect, which may as well be true for other versions of this language. Down here, we find things, events, people, you name it: "sensational", "fantastic", "world-class", "legend". Like, a good meal is by definition one of the four words mentioned. There are no good meals, let alone very good meals anymore.

My little university, for example, does everything it does "on the cutting edge". We're so much world-class, that I am wondering which world we are referring to. And we're so "cutting edge" that I wanna jump when I can't get connected.

Just returned from the gastro-doc, who was pleased to see me in such good conditions. The purpose of the meeting was to assess the progress made so far and to arrange for another gastroscopy next week Wednesday, on which occasion he will take several biopsies to assess how far the tumor has been killed. Thursday's computertomography and x-rays will provide further data, which altogether will serve as basis for a discussion on what options I will have.

Today I learnt that I will fall in one of three potential categories:

  1. Nothing much has changed, the tumor is still inoperable, and then that's it. Wait and see ...
  2. The tumor has shrunk, is operable, and will be removed.
  3. The tumor has shrunk, no tumor cells can be detected, so let's wait and see whether it will disappear.

I'm not sure whether these are all options, but we'll see what will happen next week. It seems that the story will come to some preliminary end next week in the sense that the interpretation of the data will indicate the option I have.

13 March 2001:
Once it's options' time, one gets nervous.

I'm not quite sure how I feel but I certainly do not feel as relaxed as during the past weeks. It's assessment time, and that means that things will be decided upon. With cancer, this decision may become a terminal one. Who knows?

I am quite optimistic that this won't be the case with me, but I will feel much more relaxed after next week when I know how far radio-/chemotherapy have gone as regards the killing of cancer cells.

15 March 2001:
I read about a German soccer player who was diagnosed with brain tumor in November last year. He underwent radiotherapy as the tumor was inoperable at that stage. Yesterday, he hold a press conference stating that he feels good enough to contemplate playing soccer again. He will start training in a few weeks. Amazing, eh?

Since I was diagnosed with cancer, my attention has been sharpened for all kinds of news regarding cancer, from prevention over treatment to rehabilitation. I do not find much consolation in the fact that most of the time the conclusion of these reports is that we don't know why and how certain things have happened. As the professorial gastro-doc said last Monday: "Anything's possible." Cancer treatment is like gambling?

And I thought gambling was a public health concern.

17 March 2001:
I like Barbara's and Geoff's prayer which they sent to the Healing Circle. It reminds me on a German saying which is similar, but I can't remember the words anymore.

Another friend sent the following comment regarding his contribution to a global meeting on globalization and its impact on public health:

We no longer do them (writing papers etc. - EW) with the expectation of success. We do them only knowing that their absence guarantees failure.
While we still believe we need to prepare statements, launch advocacy campaigns, and publish critiques as much as success stories, we also begin to know the very narrow limits of public action against political and economic ignorance.

The depolitization of politics is the flavor of the month, particularly when politicians claim not to politicize an issue in order to keep it manageable. Public health belongs to these issues ever more. We are asked to shut up and leave the territory to the chosen elites, who meet at meetings of increasingly obscure scope and purpose in the light of their inability to act.

18 March 2001:
I didn't sleep well last night, though I slept more than 12 hours.

First, I had a bad dream, in which I was told by the docs that the therapies were unsuccessful and that I was ordered to spend the rest of my life in a specific house in the country-side. I had no idea why they decided to send me to the "bush", until I found out that I was contaminated with all kinds of toxic chemicals which needed to be treated like a toxic waste disposal area.

I woke up, all sweaty, switched on the light and wondered what was going on. After some time I must have fallen asleep again. And then came the positive dream, in which I was told that I was on my way back to full health, unless I would get involved again with "the Government". Well, no problems on my side, and I left the doc's office, drove to the beach and had a long, endless walk on the beach.

I woke up roughly 2 hours after the first dream, switched off the light, fell asleep again until 7:00 am, when I woke up because a Magpie was singing in the tree. I dozed off again, and I stayed mostly asleep until 9:30 am, which is pretty late for me these days.

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