Sherman Alexie, “War Dances”

“Shit,” I said. “I have cancer.”

“Well,” my doctor said, “these kinds of tumors are usually noncancerous. And they grow very slowly, so in six months or so, we’ll do another MRI. Don’t worry. You’re going to be okay.”

“What about my hearing?” I asked.

“We don’t know what might be causing the hearing loss, but you should start a course of Prednisone, the steroid, just to go with the odds. Your deafness might lessen if left alone, but we’ve had success with the steroids in bringing back hearing. There are side effects, like insomnia, weight gain, night sweats, and depression.”

“Oh, boy,” I said. “Those side effects might make up most of my personality already. Will the ‘roids also make me quick to pass judgment? And I’ve always wish I had a dozen more skin tags and moles.”

The doctor chuckled. “You’re a funny man.”

I wanted to throw my phone into a wall but I said good-bye instead and glared at the tumorless people and their pretty tumorless heads.

I’d never read anything by Alexie until this essay and, I gotta say, I think I’d cope with a diagnosis somewhat similarly. Looking forward to learning how else we might align.

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