Cancer Chronicles 4: Pathology & Expression.

So…eventually, the path report makes its way to your door. Mine: Adenocarcinoma, moderately differentiated, with invasive feature and ulceration. Translation: invasive adenocarcinoma. There, that was easy. In my case, nothing I didn’t know already, but don’t get frittered by language. Look it up. If you have questions, write them down. Never be afraid to ask. The more you understand, the better you’ll be able to manage.

If ever there was a time to express yourself, this is that time. (You should be doing that anyway. Don’t wait til’ cancer comes knocking.) This is a good time to treat yourself a little. Doesn’t have to be major. I got a couple things at Big Lots:

© C. Ford.

You would not believe how incredibly obnoxious that pink nail polish is, dialed up to about nth. Everyone in the hospital loved it, kinda cheered us all up. Looks right good on the toes. Of course, for me, yet more art supplies. Got a lovely case of Daler Rowney pencils, which brings me to expression.

© C. Ford.

Draw. Write. Craft. Sing. Get your camera out. Make up new and awful fart jokes. Mortify your teenager by whipping your shirt open and saying “look, you were right, I’m full of shit!” Howl out your window and freak the fuck out of your neighbours. (They deserve it for those fucking fireworks after midnight anyway.) Something. Anything. I can’t quite do a nice bellyflop on my bed and play around with markers yet, but I’m working on it. Did you know you can get paper clips which are shaped like elephants? Make a chain of elephants. The list goes on. And on. Embrace all the moments. Even when you have a good prognosis in front of you, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the clock. I was taking a whole lot for granted, and this has been quite the smack. And right now, I have a whole lot of rats who deserve a bit better from me, so I’m going to go and make them one hell of a salad. :D


  1. kestrel says

    The pink in that nail polish… I’m going to be having after-images on the insides of my eyelids from that. :-) And those pencils!! NICE!

    And good for you, yes, embrace life. It is strange and surprising and fantastic and everything else. PLUS you have rats, who will now have a wonderful salad. That is great.

  2. says

    There’s no one quite as appreciative of a good salad (with olives, fresh coconut, and shrooms) as a whole bunch of boys. :D

  3. Raucous Indignation says

    That’s a good first step. Knowing what the disease is and it’s mutations. Next thing is the cancer’s stage. Once those are known then the plan of treatment becomes obvious. There is power in the naming of things.

  4. Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer says

    In Marcus’ spirit -- best new year possible under the circumstances!

    Expression I think is a great way to cope, I try to use it, as well. Even need to, sometimes. Curiously, some people don’t have one fibre of this need in them -- had a friend with a terminal illness who did not feel any desire to express herself at all. I wonder what determines it.

  5. says

    Are you dealing with similiar, Gorogh? It’s difficult for me to imagine not wanting to express yourself in any way, that’s pretty much the antithesis of me, but if that’s how someone feels, that’s okay too. It’s up to each person to manage this part of their life in whatever way they see fit.

    I don’t know just why I’m feeling so obnoxiously energetic right now, I’m sure that will undergo a shift soon.

  6. Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer says

    Hm no I don’t have a life threatening disease. Then again, life itself is sometimes life threatening, especially paired with depression, which is my case. Still, it certainly does not compare well to your situation, and I feel weird talking about my issues in this case…

    Anyway, when it comes to expressing oneself, I feel that when things are at their worst, that expression tends to become more autobiographical, whereas under “normal” conditions, its more artsy (well, writing mostly -- particularly fantasy role-playing stuff/plots and such, and I meant to finish some horror short stories, Lovecraft style minus racism of course). I think it’s just the motive that changes -- depression makes me want to wallow in self-pity and find out why things are that way; “normal” functioning might make me want to garner attention for whatever I am producing.

    Makes me wonder, of course, what your motives are, if at all explicable. You said you don’t know, but maybe it will occur to you eventually…

  7. says


    Then again, life itself is sometimes life threatening, especially paired with depression, which is my case. Still, it certainly does not compare well to your situation, and I feel weird talking about my issues in this case…

    I don’t know about that, I have friends who have depression, and it can be life threatening. In a way, it’s worse, because people tend to dismiss illness they can’t see in some way. And then you get idiots who say things like “just snap out of it”, as if it were that simple and easy.

    When it comes to self expression, well, I am an artist. That’s who I am. Disease doesn’t change that at all. Now, of course, that I wrote the above, have had a new pain set in, which is relentless and threatening to eat my brain alive. It’s 9:20 am where I am, and I have a serious dislike of taking anything for pain in the morning. This is one of those pains which might make me break that, which pisses me off, and kinda sets the tone for the rest of the day. There’s so much minutiae which goes into every day we have; some days it’s a lovely and mellow mix, others it’s volatile and explosive, sometimes dark, viscous, and clingingly bitter.

    All of that and more is simply fodder for the resulting art. I am thankful I have the ability to express myself; my life would be unthinkable without it. As for motives, eh, I don’t know about that. I don’t think in those terms.

  8. says

    Expressing oneself when possible is a good coping mechanism. Anything to get the mind off of the bad and onto the good. I bet the rats did enjoy the salad and the art you produce will be great.

  9. says

    Charly, I agree. The rats were ecstatic with the salad, and the crunchies, and today, they’re going to have a bit of cake. Working on the art now. I dunno about great, but it will be something. :D

  10. Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer says

    Hm yeah that’s true re depression, but that’s not what concern me really. What concerns me is the responsibilities I have (which actually kept/keep me alive, literally), and the fact that I can’t be sick because of them. Also, career and such.

    As it were, my wife’s an artist, too (illustration, some writing), still going to university though. I know many of her peers, only a few of them actually make a living from art. Only one full-time. I feel like things change so rapidly -- platforms multiply, but demand seems to decrease. Hm. But then, I don’t really know statistically, it’s just a feeling, and it may not even be a change: it’s proverbial for a long time that art is unprofitable (“brotlose Kunst”).

    Anyway, it’s interesting that you don’t concern yourself with why you do things, but just identify as an artist. Reminds me of a recommendation concerning artistic processing of dreams -- don’t write them down. That’s cool if it works for you. Maybe more importantly, I am sorry about the pain. I work in pain research, so I know how debilitating it is. Kudos if you still get anything done, I would probably just curl up and (try to) die (quietly). Also, I’m not averse to medication.

    Keep your head up. Or tail?

  11. says

    Oh yes, art’s a lousy way to make a living. It’s much easier to sell yourself than it is to sell your work, but that’s a decision each person needs to make for themselves. Myself, I loathe the pretentious bullshit of the art world, and stay the fuck away from it.

    Yay for pain researchers! You all do a great job. As for pain, eh, I have a bad spine, and I’m accustomed to pain. (Pain patient, too.) You can get used to anything, really. Although no pain would be great. I do wish there wasn’t such a high level of prudishness when it comes to pain control here in Ustates. I get spinal and neck/shoulder injections, but I’m only allowed every 3 months, and that’s sometimes pushed to 4 months, given scheduling. They don’t last long on me, generally two weeks is what I get, and I wish I had the choice to say “yes, I grok the risk, blah blah, and would like the injections every month.” Other countries aren’t nearly as hung up about that as ‘merica is, and it’s that effing puritanical streak asserting itself, in that suffering is good, just deal with it, we couldn’t possibly take the chance you might accidentally feel good or something. Which is also why you can’t get adequate pain meds and are forced to subject yourself to drug tests in order to get said inadequate pain meds.

  12. jazzlet says

    Gorogh as another with chronic pain, adhesions in my case I thank you and wish all feasible speed to your work.

    Caine sorry you are getting a different pain. That nail varnish *zings* and I envy the pencils. Which is silly as I don’t draw, I just lust after art supplies and stationary. I do write lovely letters on the stationary I can’t resist.

  13. sillybill says

    Your strength, humor, and industry amidst such a setback is amazing. I’ll try to remember whenever I’m feeling whiny.

    The nail polish made me smile because I have a bottle that’s florescent light green metallic flake. I use mine to paint the adjustment pots on circuit boards I fix. Every tech I know has a different wild color.

    I agree with you about letter writing. Email just isn’t the same thing. I enjoyed looking at other peoples cursive lettering and I would try to write as neatly as possible. Everyone would try to develop their own style, especially with signatures.
    Also too, the actual sentence structure and composition of a written letter is much different.

  14. says


    The nail polish made me smile because I have a bottle that’s florescent light green metallic flake. I use mine to paint the adjustment pots on circuit boards I fix. Every tech I know has a different wild color.

    That’s cool, I had no idea! I’m like a magpie with polish -- the shinier the better. :D

    And thank you, very much.

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