This marvelous essay from the New York Times needs no comments. It is perfect. Here is the beginning and then the link to read the rest:
By DAVID RAKOFF
I am nothing if not compliant. I held still as I was shuttled back and forth through the wondrous high-tech doughnut, inhaling and holding my breath when instructed. Less than three minutes later, I hopped off the narrow table and put my sweater back on.
"Have a fantastic day," the technician said as I left.
"Fantastic"? Fantastic days are what you wish upon those who have so few sunrises left, those whose lungs are so lesion-spangled with new cancer that they should be embracing as much life as they can. Time's a-wasting, go out and have yourself a fantastic day!
Fantastic days are for goners. Was I fated to take some final vacation to see Venice for the first and last time? Or should I corral some long-cherished idol (I'm talkin' to you, Meryl Streep) into posing for a photograph with me, both of us giving a thumbs up to the camera before she beats a hasty retreat back to the Land of the Living? That kind of fantastic day?
In truth, after close to three years into my current illness — a rather tenacious sarcoma around the area of my left collarbone — I try not to invest too much importance in the casual words of others, mostly to let them off the hook. With the exception of the wildly unprofessional X-ray technician in 1988 who, spying my radiation-strafed lungs (a result of the primitive treatment for my first bout of cancer, and the likely cause of my present sarcoma), asked how long I'd had AIDS, caregivers seem trained to keep their language and voices neutral, for just this reason: it's an unfair burden on them when so many of us who are sick are looking for signs or unstated reasons to hope during the waiting.
And there will always be waiting. It begins immediately.