Time Is a Trickster When Cancer Runs the Clock

Dana Jennings in The New York Times:

Cancer Cancer insists on its own time. If you try to defy it, it can break you, physically and spiritually. It doesn’t know from deadlines and BlackBerries, from Twittering and overnight delivery. Cancer is analog in a digital world. If you have a Type A personality, you will need to adjust to Type C — for cancer. Each phase of the disease — diagnosis, surgery, radiation and other treatment — carries its own distinct sense of stepping outside traditional time, its own bitter flavor of dislocation.

I went on Cancer Standard Time last April 7, the moment I learned, at age 50, that I had prostate cancer. I’d had a biopsy three days before, and I thought I fully understood that the odds were 50-50. Yet, I realize now, I secretly believed that I couldn’t possibly have cancer. That only happened to other people. In that instant, I felt stuck in time — What? What? What? — like a scratched CD skipping and stuttering in the player. I wondered whether I’d heard wrong. I chose to have my prostate removed, and the three months between the diagnosis and my prostatectomy were a blur. I was swept up in a whirlwind of tests and scans, treatment decisions and negotiations with my insurer. (They were hostage negotiations, with me as the hostage.) Those days hurtled forward, caught in the gravitational pull of surgery.

More here.