Earlier this week, one of the younger writers of pony fanfic — he's sixteen — offered to take on routine editing and/or proofreading jobs because he needed, he said, distraction; he didn't, at the time, have a story of his own under development. (This is not too unusual: I read a couple dozen stories before ever daring to try one of my own.)

And then we found out what he needed distraction from:

So I went in for testing about 4 days ago, results are in. Cancer has spread from my lungs to around my chest, my throat, liver and stomach. The doctor says at the rate its grown over the last 3 months I have no more than 9 months. I don't even know what to say, at least with the Stage 2 I had a chance but now in Stage 4 the chance is so small it's like saying get ready to die.

It's almost like he skipped over Stage 3 entirely. This is some seriously speedy metastasizing.

Inevitably, I, in my capacity as one of the older writers of pony fanfic — I'm sixty — began wondering how I'd take this news, news which, demographically at least, I should be far more likely to hear. And I drew a blank: nothing would come. This is, I assume, a credit to my highly developed powers of denial and suppression. (And they must be highly developed, if only to deal with my high-level hypochondria: every time a piece of gristle gets past the gateway, I figure that right then and there I'm going to choke to death.)

The lad has options, sort of:

At the end of this period of time there is one thing the doctors will try. A surgery that will more likely kill me than save my life. In a nut shell, they will put me in a drug induced coma, cut me open, remove any and all tumours they find even if there in a risky area to dig around in. They're going to tear out both my liver and lungs and give me transplants because by the time they're finished with the organs where the cancer is the worst there is not going to be much left of them. After that they will give me dosages of radiation that will most likely kill all my sperm cells and shorten my life by like 20 years.

Which, I submit, is better than having it shortened by 60-70 years.

If all this works out then I'll be on immune suppression drugs for the rest of my life due to the transplants. But that opens up a whole new can of worms, immune suppression drugs increase your chance of becoming fatally ill to illnesses that people not on the drugs could fight off no problem. Plus there is a chance cancer could re-emerge five or maybe even twenty years down the road.

A veritable ray of sunshine, this guy.

Now I know from immune-suppression drugs: my brother Paul, a transplant-recipient himself, was on them for two decades. On the other hand, during that twenty-year period he was, as the phrase goes, still alive.

And I also know from time-left projections. In 1999, they informed my father that he had maybe six months to go. He was still around six years later, and died in the last week of 2006.

So maybe that's how I'll act when I am handed the Black Spot: alternate perfectly logical arguments with moments of sheer terror. I hope I'll be able to find something to distract myself.

Weirdly enough, I have to deal with this in fiction before — at least, I think it's before — I have to deal with it on a personal level. Aging earth pony Desert Brush, having won the heart of young unicorn Twilight Sparkle, was already resigned to the idea that she'd have to bury him some day; however, with Twilight's ascension to alicorn status, and her attendant increase in lifespan, she's going to be a widow for a long, long time. (In true Scarlett O'Hara fashion, she won't think about that now: she'll think about that tomorrow.) And he's just clueless enough, I suspect, to keep reminding her about it.

Update, 9 June: It appears that we've been hoaxed. However, I stand by my reactions, even if the stimulus was bogus.

The Vent

#871
  1 June 2014

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