I’m here today and expected to stay
On and on and on
— the prophet Steven Paul Smith
The important thing in any meaningful cancer discussion is running shoes.
The PA asks me if those are the shoes I run in. I explain, no, they’re another in my endless series of failed experiments. But they’re now my go-to chemo shoes.
He nods, that understanding of someone who’s been in the trenches with you for a while, although he’s nowhere near the True Believer dogma of my oncologist. Life is a series of compromises.
He says he’s wearing Asics these days. Mostly Nimbus. Used to be Kayanos, but they went dead too quickly. He just did the Disney 6-Day with his kids and the Nimbus worked great, other than the long lines and his wife’s low phone battery life. I’m not sure you can blame Asics for that.
He’s curious how many miles I get out of shoes. I tell him the current ones have a nudge under 700 miles, although my knee is suggesting I switch to Roscoe, the new pair waiting patiently to come in from the sidelines. Sort of like being the backup to Tom Brady, I guess. I don’t tell him about the Piranhas and the 1,000-mile game. There’s only so much you can cover in a doctor visit.
What’s your sweet spot for the drop in the shoe? Padding preference? What’s your price point?
I tell him I lean toward minimalism stuff and don’t really pay much attention to drops, other than $300 worth of exiled Altras sitting in the closet wondering why I ever started the relationship when I knew it would never work out. And I don’t worry about shoe prices these days, since I bill them to the insurance company as part of the oncology bill.
Mostly I buy shoes to match the color of my sunglasses, and I just bought pink ones in an unfortunate late-night stupor. But he doesn’t need to know that. Although he’s wearing a bow tie in a color not found in nature.
And then eventually we run out of stuff and have to talk about cancer. Numbers good, tolerance fine, prognosis good, blah blah fluffy. I ask him what happens when we get to the end of the chemo road, nine visits later over a year and a half, and he says some stuff about studies that have been done and the reality is that they don’t really know yet. You can follow a marathon training plan, but there’s no way of being assured what lies in the 25th mile. Marathons are just 25 miles, right? It’s been a while.
He walks me down the hall to the infusion center. I say my financial guy predicts I will live to be 90, though it’s likely because I pay him a lot. The PA nods and says to be wary of financial advisers. Bottom line, they’re just salesmen, he says. The words roll around in my head. I understand what he’s saying. But then he’s selling me a two-year chemo plan with no warranty. Trust the science. Until you don’t.
And now it’s 2 a.m. and the fuzzy thing is back in my head, an inevitable byproduct of the obinutuzumab mambo. A couple of crappy days ahead, followed by a really crappy day after that, and them I’m not sure how many sorta crappy days after that, followed by a gradual return to normalcy, a sure sign that it’s time for the next round. All the while, trying to forget this makes my covid susceptibility so great that they’re no longer taking bets on my odds in Vegas.
I’m not sure I know what to believe in anymore. Trust your coach, the old running saying goes. Trust the plan.
I’m here today and I’m expected to stay, Elliott Smith wrote. On and on and on, I’m tired. I’m tired.
And then he died.
Me? Maybe I’ll see how far I can go in the old Beacons. A lot of a miles and an uncertain sole. Just like me.
Looking out on the substitute scene
Still going strong