This Cancerous Election Fundraiser

I have been feeling dizzy off and on for the last month or so. It is probably related to my nose bleeding for such a long time plus some seasonal allergies, but it was worth reporting to my oncology team. (As a side note, everything is worth reporting to your oncology team once you have cancer.) I expected the usual dismissal, but instead got some cautionary comments.

“It is extremely unlikely that colon cancer went to your brain, but it isn’t impossible.”


“Colon cancer really doesn’t like the brain, but if it persists, then let’s get it checked out. We can schedule an MRI. Just let me know.”

Blink. A few days later, after suffering every anxious thought imaginable, I sent a note to the oncology team that I was continuing to feel dizzy. I didn’t mention that it was also Tuesday, November 3rd and most of the country was also feeling anxious and dizzy. They scheduled an MRI for Thursday which was pretty quick even for MD Anderson. Apparently, it is pretty easy to schedule appointments at MD Anderson during a presidential election week. There was no one there.

I have had MRI’s before. They are loud, anxiety producing procedures, but I didn’t know the details about how brain scans were done. They laid me on a bed, packed foam around my head to keep it still, and shoved ear plugs in my ears to protect them, put a helmet over my face and bolted it to the table so I couldn’t move my head, and then pushed a button to slide the table into a tube where all I could see was the white surface inches from my face.

“Oh, hell no. Get me out of here.”


“Get me out of here.”

The radiologist slid me out of the tube.

“There is no way I am doing that without something. I can’t sit in there like that for forty-five minutes.”

“You sure?”

“Oh yeah.”

The radiologist walked me out and explained the situation to the head radiologist that had set my IV for the contrast earlier in the visit. She tried to coax me through the procedure.

“I’ll be right here. We can give you some breaks. Take a deep breath. Come on do it with me. Come on.”

I breathed with her. She told me we didn’t have to pack my head in the padding but they did have to use the helmet thing.

“Breath with me. Come on. I said, Breathe.”

“Okay. Okay. I’m breathing.”

She slid me into the tube.

“Oh. Fucking hell no! I can’t do it.”

“Okay. Okay. We’re getting you out of there. We’ll schedule it again when you have something you can take with it.”

The next morning, the oncology team was already on it. I didn’t have to explain the drug reactions again. They know. The PA offered me the option of being sedated.

“It will take a couple of weeks to get approved and scheduled, but it’s probably for the best.”

“Oh yes. Thank you. You could give me something else, but I have no way of knowing how I’ll react to it. I know it needs to be done.”

“It’s really unlikely that anything is wrong, but we need to rule it out. So yes. We will just get you sedated.”

In eighteen months, I have had three surgeries, nineteen chemotherapy treatments, innumerable IV’s and blood draws, drugs upon drugs, and catheters, and appointments, and worries about everything under the sun. My body has been through things I cannot describe. I cannot lie in a tube with my head bolted to a table for forty-five minutes bathed in the stentorian sounds of the gods of metal. That, my friends, is where I draw the line. Put me out.

The AP has been calling elections based on statistical methods that they have used for at least the last 50 years. I can’t find the exact date that this practice began. I’m pretty sure the AP has never been wrong. The other networks have been wrong a few times. I have seen it mentioned by people upset with the result that none of the counts in any state have been certified and that is correct. States count and report the results as they are counted and the AP has been reporting their statistical prediction that the count will end in one of the candidates favor. They did that in 2016, 2012, 2008, 2004, 2000, 1996, 1992, 1988, etc. Yes the networks got the 2000 vote wrong, but not the AP. It is a tradition in American politics, but not the law. I bet we will wait this long or longer in presidential elections going forward because everyone on the internet is an expert these days. This is why we can’t have anything nice.

When the counting (and recounting in some of the close states where it is requested or legally required) is actually completed in a few weeks, the secretary of state (and possibly the governor) in each state will certify those results and send those results to the state legislature of each state, who will then pick the electors according to the laws governing selection of electors in each state. Then those electors will cast their electoral vote for president on December 14th.

I had to explain that because there suddenly seems to be a lot of people that know an awful lot about election law. A lot of people are concerned about how the networks pick the winner. They just do it out of convenience since the data and the calculations were there and earlier in the 20th century everyone was getting impatient to find out how the vote went. Think about this: In the 1800’s, before the telegraph, people would wait months to know who won. If you lived in Durango, Colorado in 1892 during the election of 1892 between the Democrat Grover Cleveland, Republican Benjamin Harrison, and Populist James B. Weaver (yes there were third party candidates in 1892), the way to refresh your electoral college map counter on your phone was to harass the telegraph operator.

“Who won?”

“I don’t know.”

“Any new results in New York?”


“How did Colorado vote?”

“I don’t know. I’ll let you know in December… Maybe.”

“How about now?”

Then there is this thing about fraudulent votes. I have been incredulous at the outcome of an election. It’s pretty difficult to believe that there are other people that see the world that differently. I am committed to my worldview so completely that I believe everyone, with the right education and the right way of listening, will come around to my way of seeing things. Last night, I had an epiphany of sorts: That assumption is completely false. All of the people whose thinking I believe will come around to my way of thinking are completely committed to the same about me.

I definitely wanted a recount in August of 2019 when I was diagnosed with colon cancer, but when it comes to politics and elections and life, I’m pretty sure we won’t care as much about who was president as we do about the life we’ve led personally. I am a political junky, but that is not what my blog has ever been about. I will not start now. It is a reality of our time. It would be disingenuous not to mention it at least.

I don’t know how to quantify the anxiety I felt about the confined space inside an MRI tube as opposed to the actually invasive procedures I have endured. Perhaps it’s about the anxiety many of us have felt for the last four years, some with way more reason than I. Today, Lucy’s violin teacher along with the parents of the Heights Violin Studio, have organized a cancer fundraiser for our family. We will not be there, but I hope we will be able to watch it via zoom. Let me know if you want to watch it. Send me an email, and I will send you the link:

Here’s a picture of me and Lucy:

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5 responses to “This Cancerous Election Fundraiser”

  1. Perhaps odd to comment on the writing and not the content, but I cannot help but admire the narrative arc from personal to the election and then back to the personal that culminates in this line: “I definitely wanted a recount in August of 2019 when I was diagnosed with colon cancer . . .” Beautifully written, painfully lived. What’s important here is the living.

  2. It was a beautiful performance on a beautiful fall day, and I thought of you and Lucy the whole time we were there. It’s the kind of thing the world needs more of right now, listening to beautiful music played by children, to benefit a fellow schoolmate and friend’s father who wants to provide for his family. ❤️

  3. Politics didn’t hold my interest until I had time . My time was consumed by 3 beautiful children, home , family and then work.
    You and I have talked politics routinely when you were in Boston. Bill used to ask how your grades were . I don’t know I just care that he is okay.
    . Cancer conversation is intimate and intimidating. And I care how you are handling it. I’ve always wondered how much is enough for anyone . All of you guys text me with little innuendos and if it leaves me hanging I‘m calling. Which we do a lot.
    Always love your writing and the ability to tell the story in real words.
    GREAT PICTURE. Beautiful
    Love you guys. ❤️ Mom

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