This article originally appeared in the September/October 2023 issue.
I write this in the odd limbo between being diagnosed with cancer and a meeting, after MRI and CT scans, to tell me what the prognosis is. Itís an odd week of thinking about a scale of possibilities. From 0 Ė Iíve been healed, the prayers of family and church have been answered, through to 10 Ė youíve got three months to live. In fact, it seems more likely to be a bell curve with two pretty extreme ends!
I have an odd sense of wildness and feeling rather gung-ho. Decision making has become much easier in some ways. Weed this book? Yeah, get rid of it. Do I need to deal with this email? Nah, delete it, move on, thereís more to do and no time. Itís probably not a good time to be making really critical decisions. I found myself unable to resist clicking on the Ďbuyí button for a rather expensive gadget. I can try and justify it by saying it will help with Traveller writing! Of course, if I am at the further end of the probability bell curve, I hope someone can find a use for itÖ
I also have an outrageous sense of peace. I think two things are going on here. The first is that the doctors do have a way forward. Iíve lived for multiple decades with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that they essentially wash their hands of. They donít know what causes it, they donít know how to treat it, they donít really know how to respond to me telling them that I struggle with it. Three times Iíve been through the various questions they ask and tests they run and been told Iím a fit and healthy (aside from cancer) 58 year old. Well, no Iím not, havenít you just heard me? So it comes as something of a relief that there will be a plan and I just need to work through the various stages of it. Surgery, recovery, chemo or radiotherapy, dietary changes, etc.
The other thing going on is a very real and direct sense of Godís presence. Heís speaking to me clearly through scripture, song, nature and those around me. Iíve experienced this a handful of times before and it becomes something I treasure, so Iíll keep a diary.
There may be another Confession to write after The Meeting, as Iíve taken to calling it. There may be decision to be made about how much Traveller I can participate in or write if Iím undergoing various treatments. Iím already reminded of Dr McCoy in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home commenting on 21st century medicine.
But for now, I can reflect on Traveller-level medtech almost certainly having learned to cure cancer by the 57th century Ė or have things gone backwards during The Long Night? But Iím equally sure that there will be other physical/mental/psychological issues sophonts will have to deal with. After all, it makes for great adventuring! Some kind of Jumpspace sickness? Psionic psychosis? Alien parasites? Medics and medicines are clearly present, so there will still be something to heal and cancer can stand in for ailments we canít imagine.
I imagine that scanning tech will have moved on from the noise and duration of MRIs or the delicacy of a CT scan. Just last night the evening news carried reports of German researchers making a transparent mouse that showed up inner structure and cancers in much greater detail than ever before and lit them up in brilliant colours which were easy to see. The process killed the mouse however. Hopefully things will have moved on in 30 centuries!