The first thing was the weather: a typhoon hit Taiwan today and our town was flooded. We put Rima and Yrsa in the car and drove off through the deluge. Diane let me off at the hospital. I was hoping the clinic would be cancelled because of the rain. I was going to run away from my appointment: come back to Diane and the kids and tell them the doctor didn’t show up because of the weather. But instead I waited. Pacing around the hospital. Eventually no 28 came up.
I knew something was wrong when I caught a glimpse of the pathology report on the doctor’s computer. It was long, long. The doctor was nervously trying to copy and paste it onto a word file. Eventually he highlighted some words on the screen. “You see,” he said. I did see but I didn’t understand the Latin terminology. “Those cells are cancerous.” “You have cancer.”
I called Diane in a haze. She wailed back at me. Before long she was coming up the escalator, with Yrsa and Rima in tow. Completely drenched. A nice nurse gave them large sheets to dry themselves off. A complete stranger got the kids milk, even warmed it up for them.
The tumor is large and deep. We had to go somewhere, said the doctor. Some hospital somewhere. He told us the name but we didn’t understand. I tried calling my friend Zhiben but I got the digits all mixed up. The doctor eventually took charge and there was Zhiben on the phone. Yes, I’m supposed to go to Taiwan University’s cancer clinic. They can’t do anything more for me here in Xinzhu.
We drove home through the continuing rain. Met my two oldest. “Yes, it’s the worst possible news. Pappa has cancer.” Then we all cried together. Held each other and cried.
Diane and I drove in to work later in the afternoon. Met Zhiben and my friend Meihong. They called up the hospital in Taipei. I have an appointment with a cancer specialist on Tuesday. “These are the best doctors in Taiwan,” said my colleauges. “They’ll take out your tumor and you’ll be OK.” “I know you worry, but don’t worry too much.”