by the Night Writer
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!”
We each have things that we fear. Some of these we’ll name, others are too scary to speak out-loud, or perhaps belong to a black grab-bag of things we don’t want to think about, let alone name. Let’s call the nameless and numberless, “Jabberwock”. Made up of myth, rumor and the darkest corners of our imagination, the Jabberwock is a shape-shifter. At once mysterious and familiar, its features are indistinct and take different forms with different people, always representing that which lurks just outside the light of the campfire. Perhaps you know it.
That may seem too primeval for our modern era of science and reason. Surely we are past the time of clutching talismans and muttering incantations to protect us now that we have the internet, right?
The name of my Jabberwock floated on its spectral breath after I hung up the phone that evening last summer. Cancer. That beast has stalked my family for generations. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other relations. My father’s brother has prostate cancer, and my father had it and then ultimately died of lymphoma. “Beware the Jabberwock, my son.”
I know the jaws that bite, the claws that catch. In the days following the call I would also discover, however, that the Jabberwock doesn’t hunt alone.
“Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch.”
Leading up to the biopsyI threw myself into research, following Google-trails through tulgey woods and brambles both to bastions of higher learning and to beacons of alternative therapies and secrets. I set out looking for hope, but for every bright possibility there was twice the discouragement. Much of the information, even from the experts – such as the need for and effectiveness of the PSA test – was even contradictory.
Then there were the treatment options, should the biopsy come back positive. I read up on all the options, from the least intrusive to the most radical and the good things about each option would sound really good, but the bad things that went along with each sounded really bad. It looked as if there were no way out of the box I was in that didn’t have significant risks and ongoing quality of life issues. I would start my day in prayer and find peace, only to be taunted by Jubjub birds and having that peace leached away by frumious Bandersnatches with every mouse-click during the day.
And the biopsy came back positive.
Next: Of Tum-tums and other trees