It's 5:15 AM as I start to type this. John is in bed with the dogs, which is where I was until about an hour ago, when an allergy attack forced me to get up. Now I'm at the computer in the early winter pre-dawn, on the edge of shivers as we are trying to avoid running the heat, which doesn't reach my office anyway. (The furnace did eventually come on, John told me later.) It's 35 degrees F outside, probably in the mid-60s in my office. I'm about to put another layer of clothing on over my fleece pullover.
None of that matters. After all, it's been snowing in half the country, and much colder than here in most places. This is unseasonably cold for Tucson, but weather is always a subjective and relative thing. In Syracuse this would be unseasonably warm. My body is no longer acclimated to genuine Syracuse weather, and hasn't been in decades. For me now, this is cold. But it still is nothing to complain about.
I'd love to see some snow here, though. Snow in Tucson is a rare commodity, and always good for some interesting pictures. But the weather forecasts don't seem to hold out any hope for snow between now and Christmas, except perhaps on the mountains. I think there have been a total of two White Christmases in Tucson since they started tracking such things. (There was also a trace of snow in 1974 and half an inch in 1911, but the four inches in 1916 comprised the only other snow that "stuck.") I've written repeatedly about the last Christmas snow in Tucson, which was in 1987.
But in the absence of snow, a job, more money for presents, etc., there's still room for celebration here this Christmas. If you read my Twitter feed (either on Twitter, on Facebook, or on this blog's sidebar) , you already know the news I got Thursday afternoon, at least in precis. I heard back from an assistant at my doctor's office. Remember that biopsy I had on December 10th for cancer? I'm going to be a little more specific now, without getting too graphic about it. At the time, Dr. L. said that what she was seeing was consistent with menopause, not cancer, and that it was just my wonky hormones causing the atypical transition that had raised my doctor's concerns as well as mine. Her observations when she did the biopsy relieved my anxiety about 99%, but the last 1% came with the test results. The assistant said it was negative. "Well, technically it says 'benign,'" she added, "but that means negative."
"So I don't have cancer," I said, just to confirm.
"You don't have cancer," she agreed.
So here we are, in a cancer-free household. The shadow is off me, and the worry, sadness and expense of Tuffy's cancer that dogged us last Christmas is behind us now, replaced by the joy of having two healthy, happy dogs. And if I start to take all this too much for granted, I need only remember other folks whose news wasn't so good. A friend of mine at church apparently is having a recurrence of her cancer, and is currently recovering from pneumonia. A friend who reads this blog had another form of cancer some years ago, and survived it. I lost yet another friend to leukemia on Good Friday, over 10 years ago now. Even Majel Barrett, whom I never met but sort of admired, died of leukemia the day I got my good news.
In the face of all that, I should celebrate being alive and well myself. Allergies are nothing, and a mostly symptom-free menopause is nothing. I will not undergo surgery, or the financial ruin of cancer without health insurance. Money is tight, but not unmanageable; and John and the dogs are a daily joy. Plus I had a WebEx-based teleconference orientation on the CPA review course, and it all looks rather promising, a well thought out and well realized system that will take me longer to get through than I'd hoped, but less long than I'd feared. Let the modest, but real, Christmas joy commence!