Wednesday, 7 May 2008
To Be Or Not To Be
It's been a long day. I'm on study leave but I didn't get much study done today. At 9 I was invited by the Urologist to come to his office at 4:30 and have a chat. The receptionist who made the call was pleasant and matter of fact and didn't give away any information but there's no way of disguising the intent of a call like that. Something is wrong.It's been a long day, which, as an introvert, I was pleased to spend on my own.
Clemency came home a little early and we went to see Mr. Samalia together. He's a tall man, white haired, dark skinned. Large gentle brown eyes. He spoke with great kindness but with absolute candour. I have cancer, in my prostate. Cancers have a rating system - a number assigned to them from 1 to 5 to mark how much they have disrupted the cells around them. I have a patch of 4 cells, and some, who have been trying particularly hard, have made it all the way to number 5. None of your namby pamby little 1s or 2s or 3s for me, thank you very much. The rotten bits are not very big at the moment but it's not a good thing for them to have appeared so quickly in a man my age. This particular brew is little but very determined. There's a number of ways to treat prostate cancer but for me, given the speed of growth and the likelihood of it spreading if left too long, it's probably most sensible to have the whole prostate removed. Mr Samalia outlined what would happen. He spelled out the risks and the likely side effects. He is a Hindu, a man of faith; a man of considerable spiritual stature. We made a mutually knowing and respectful connection and I trust him.
So then it was phone and txt and email to family and friends. There's no way you can keep this sort of thing secret and neither would I want to - this is life; this is where I am now. My Catherine rushed home and held me. My Bridget is coming tomorrow. My Nick is a globe away and I hope I'll see him soon. We all know what has to be done but over the next couple of days we've got to figure out when. Is the sabbatical trip to the UK and Israel still on? Mr. Samalia thinks it would be OK, but perhaps it might be as well to get the deed done as soon as may be.
I took this study leave to reflect on Being: what does it mean to exist? What does it mean to be conscious? What does it mean to be a self? I am also interested in the church's Being: what does it mean to be the Church, the body of Christ? What can be changed and still have the Church be the Church? And now I have another set of issues prompted by my unexpected and involuntary contemplation of my own non being. It strikes me tonight that these three sets of questions are actually the same ones being asked in three different contexts. Perhaps I will be able to come up with some answers. After all my concentration has been sharpened up amazingly in the last few hours.