“How you doing?”
That is a question all of us get all the time. It’s only a formality. The only appropriate answer is “Fine.” Can you imagine going into work, seeing the person in the cubicle next to you, saying “how you doing” and they actually answer you? You’re standing there like “oh, this is horrible, this person thinks I care about them.”
One of the side effects of having cancer is that now when people ask me how I’m doing they actually seem to want to know the answer.
I can tell because when they say it it’s less of a question and more of a statement. They’re like“How are you doing.” Period. Complete with a downward inflection and a touch on the wrist.
I still respond with ‘fine’ but I tend to say it as a question. Like “fine? I think? Do you know something I don’t know?”
What does ‘fine’ even mean? I’ve heard it’s actually an acronym. It means Fucked Up, Insecure, Neurotic, Evasive. Which sounds fairly accurate.
But the odd thing is I feel more fine now than I have in years. Sure I feel like shit after I get chemo but on my off weeks I feel pretty normal. And normal feels great because I know in a week and a half I’m going to feel like shit again so I enjoy my days that much more.
Being not fine for a while makes you appreciate how wonderful fine actually is.
Before my surgery, for two straight months, I felt horrible. I could barely eat, I couldn’t really go anywhere, I was whimpering or crying out in pain 10-15 times a day. Then I had surgery. And even with words like ‘cancer’ and ‘stage 4’ I was like “wow I can eat! I feel fine! This is amazing!”
And cancer has drastically altered my perspective. Before my diagnosis my mind was always so far in the future. What was I going to do with my life? Where is my next job coming from? What is the next play I’m going to write? City I’m going to live in? My life always felt like something that was gonna start as soon as I got the right gig or reached a certain level of fame or had enough money in the bank. This life I was living now was just the rehearsal to what was about to come. When everything would be perfect.
But then…cancer. A disease that can kill me. And I’ve got to get treatment so it will go into remission so I can stay alive. That life in the future, that life to come, might not ever get here. This, now, is my life, not some sort of practice run until I get my sitcom. And the thing is I’ve actually had it pretty awesome this whole time. The prospect of losing my life made me realize how much I liked it.
Do I have all the money I want? No.
Am I as successful as I want? No.
Do I have everything I need? Yes.
How am I doing?