The Bad News About Bad News

LC and kids from GQ October 1997

Page 281.

I don’t know about you, but when I get a voicemail from a doctor that says, “This by no means means that you have cancer,” I automatically think that I have cancer.

And this is exactly the kind of thing that makes me wish I believed in God. Who am I supposed to pray to now? Ayn Rand? Shouldn’t there be some type of God for atheists during a health scare? I knew I shouldn’t have fucked with Him when I wrote that crap about no longer being scared of getting bad news. What the hell was I thinking?

I recently took one of those old-man PSA tests (which, for you non-old men, screens for prostate cancer), and the result was high so my doctor insisted on another test and the second number was lower, but he still wants me to come in for a sonogram and that’s what the voicemail was about. If the images look fine, that’s that. If they don’t, he’ll do a small needle biopsy, send it to some Dexter pathology dude and I’ll deal with whatever “by no means means.”

You may recall that I’m a bit of a hypochondriac and the word “cancer” to a hypochondriac is like shushing Kanye West. It’s even worse than that for me. I’ve told you about my testicular cancer (great band name there) more than 20 years ago, but I didn’t tell you how I found out about it (and if you’re curious to read more, look up The Nutcracker Suite in the October 1997 issue of GQ with George Clooney on the cover):

After forty-five minutes of what was supposed to be exploratory surgery, I had awakened to my wife Caryn’s gentle touch, and as soon as I saw her face through the last wisps of an anesthetic haze, I knew I was going to be all right. My urologist, Bob Waldbaum, still in his surgical scrubs, walked in a moment later and in his reassuring bear of a voice announced, “Lawrence, my boy, we had to take out the crappy testicle. It was totally dysfunctional, but it doesn’t look cancerous.” And that’s when I pretty much lost it, crying like a baby in Caryn’s arms. Thank God, I was clean.

Or so I thought. My post-op visit was the following week. “Apparently, the biopsy uncovered some cancerous cells,” said Waldbaum.

That’s really all you need to know and other than for déjà vu, I know that I’ll be okay. Really, I do.

And I keep repeating that to myself like a mantra because I don’t really know it at all.

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