At my Men With Cancer writers’ group on September 9, the writing prompt was — “I need to say this.” This is what I wrote:

I need to say this…

This experience, having cancer, is just so ambiguous.

Am I ill? Sometimes fatigue and discomfort overcome this old body and leave me narcoleptic and fearful. Other times I feel up for a twenty-mile hike in the hills. Of course, you know that twenty-mile-hike is a pipe dream, but I feel up to it.

Scans help us ground ourselves in reality, but it is a reality seen through the lens of an oncological interpretation. “Your tumors have regressed and statistically if you remain in partial remission for three years, you have only a few percent chance of recurrence.” More ambiguity.

I know that this state is just an accelerated form of the normal healthy life. We just never know whether or when our lives will end. But with cancer and cancer treatment, one discretely feels the loss of normal healthy vitality, and that makes the potential for loss-of-life loom larger.