May 032016
Stage 2 cancer. The fight is on.
So. Cancer.
You’re ambling along, minding your own business, and a yawning chasm opens before your feet. That can be a plot device, but in real life it knocks the breath right out of you.
It’s Stage 2, a moderately aggressive variant and it’s not encapsulated or anything nice and neat like that. We’re about to do the tests to make a best guess at whether or how far it has spread. The kind I have isn’t unbeatable, and heaven knows I’m tough. If I tell you what kind I have and you’re familiar with cancer, you’ll probably dismiss mine out of hand because it’s generally curable. Oh, my risk factors are a bit high, and there’s a 30% recurrence rate, but this is a cancer we can do something about.
From my perspective, however, even this kind kills people. It could kill me. Just when I have so much to lose.

The literature makes the most common major treatment step sound so straightforward that it can take a while to realize it’s still radiation, inverted. The techs won’t beam radiation at me, I’ll swallow it and become radioactive myself. Being Of A Certain Age, it sounds all space-agey. I think it’s

Stage 2 cancer. The fight is on.

Elspeth in Ireland, 2015

kind of cool until I realize it’s still managed radiation poisoning, as much as anyone can manage radiation. We have to track down all the cells in my body that are this cancer. We’re gonna nuke the buggers until they glow. There is

a question is how much of the rest of me they take with them.

Chances are, what’s happened is because I had about a gazillion x-rays of my head and neck over about thirty years. I had an accident as a kid, and worked my way through available technologies until they finally invented something that would work. I took a lot of extra damage from docs giving me the best they had at the time. All those x-rays…I started wondering in my twenties whether some day there would be hell to pay.
Well, here we are.
I’m not writing about beer so much at the moment. I’m still tasting, still brewing, still delighting in it, and still researching (and sometimes writing about) historical brewing – most recently about beer cask regulation and how that affected the beer trade in medieval England. I have such a flair for tapping the hot topics.
Right now I am drawing family and friends around me like a warm cloak of support and love. This is a winner-takes-all gamble for my life. There will be no quarter given in this battle by either side. I intend to win. Immediately before me is the part where we figure out just how big this battle needs to be.

  2 Responses to “It’s Stage 2 Cancer. The Fight is On.”

  1. Elspeth – I’m very sorry to hear of your cancer diagnosis – I send you nothing but supportive, good vibes. I admire that, in the midst of something that can be so frightening, you’ve managed to keep a positive outlook and write about it in such a creative way. If there’s anything the beer world can do for you as you embark on this battle – please let me know and I’ll be happy to rally the troops. Looking forward to sharing a pint with you when the last of the echos of the sounds of your victory over this foe have quieted. Prost.

    • Thanks for the good wishes. Right now I’m on a medically necessary diet getting ready for radiation – but I can have a beer!

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