Rerun: Cancer (2)

A second factor that helped me recover from cancer was that I never stopped working. Even on my worst days, I wrote. When the Naval Institute Press (NIP) accepted Last of the Annamese for publication in 2016, I redoubled my efforts. I worked on the proofs of Annamese and struggled through the editing process with a genuinely excellent editor from NIP to get the book ready for publication in March 2017. At the same time, I continued work on Secretocracy, a novel based on my years in intelligence. That book is due for publication this month by Adelaide, a New York publisher.

Recovery from the cancer has taken much longer than I expected. I realize now that the cancer came close to doing me in. And it took five years to get completely back on my feet. I have come to understand that there was a third factor that led to my recovery: utter bullheadedness. After years of risking my life on the battlefields in Vietnam, I wasn’t about to let a little thing like cancer take me out.

These days, until recently, I stuck to my demanding work routine. Besides writing, I was up to my elbows in promoting my books with presentations and readings. I was working ten-hour days and loving every minute. Then, with the onset of the coronavirus scare, venues where I give presentations, do readings, and conduct classes have all closed down. I suddenly find myself, for the first time in memory, isolated with time on my hands. I’m disciplining myself to use the extra time to work on the two novels I have sketched out.

So three factors led to my survival and recovery from cancer: my underlying excellent health, my devotion to my work, and my undiluted pigheadedness.

And I’m deeply grateful for my good luck.

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