May 24, 2010
Now that I’m writing this blog, I’ve been on the lookout for intersections where cancer and writing meet. Cancer and writing…cancer and writing...
Here’s one. Today was my monthly treatment day. Treatments change over time. As one type ceases to outsmart the wily cancer, a new treatment is prescribed.
For a while I was going to the hospital only every three months, and so those appointments felt somehow strange, as if I were moonwalking. Now I’m back to monthly hospital visits with different combinations of treatments and practitioners each time.
For now I get two shots every month. Every three months, I receive an intravenous infusion of a drug that builds bone to offset the bone-eating tendencies of the cancer. The drug takes only twenty minutes to administer, but I have to wait a long time for all of my blood tests to confirm that I’m good to go. So like the cancer patients whose treatments last for a subjective forever, I settle for hours in one of the reclining chairs in the infusion room, regaled with blankets and pillows, cheered on by angelic nurses.
While in the chair, I either read or grade the papers of my English Comp. students, or else I nap. But one thing I’ve never done in the chair is to write. Why not? I wonder. After all, I’ve written at airport gates, in hotel rooms, in cafés. Why not in one of those big, comfy chairs, in what is, I must say, quite a relaxing environment?
I suppose I could try—work on a longhand draft the way I used to before the computer devil found its way into my writer’s soul. And yet to do so seems…almost unethical, I think. An oncology infusion room is quite different from a café, where the stimulation of ambient words, the aroma of coffee, the comings and goings of customers are, yes, distracting, but also energizing. “In the chair,” I’m surrounded by people who are suffering in both body and mind. The medical ling-lang, the smell of chemicals, the scuttling about of nurses are way more imposing than is anything in the café ecosystem.
And if I could tune it all out, what kind of writer would I be?