I am chasing a straight. I know I am chasing a straight but it is the only thing I know to do. I could fold, which normally, that’s what I would do because I am good at cards and folding is what is called for when you have a shit hand. Any poker player worth their salt will tell you never, ever, chase a straight. Chasing a straight is a disaster ninety-nine out of one hundred times. Not only is that hand a disaster because the other player, if they have caught on, has bled you dry, but you usually end up so far behind, you are never going to get back to even. You are done.

I’m good at gambling, in general. I like it. It’s logical, there are patterns, and if you don’t let your emotions get in the way, you will win more than you lose. The trick to beating the house is knowing when to quit, walk away. When you are up, be happy with enough. When you are down, stop digging the hole. Never bet what you can’t afford to lose. That’s how it works.

But here I am, chasing a straight. I have a shit hand but I keep seeing the bet because the next card may keep me in the game a little longer. I have a disease that is going to kill me. Not now, maybe not a year from now but it will eventually kill me, if a tree doesn’t fall on me or I have a fatal heart attack first. This cancer isn’t something I can beat. I’m not winning anything. I’m playing a numbers game. Every time some other woman dies of Stage IV breast cancer and I’m still alive, that means I’ve advanced one more place in line. That’s how it works. If the odds of living to see your 45th birthday are 8 to 100, you can’t help but understand that means ninety-two other people had to run out of chips. It’s how it goes.

I have good days. I have bad days. Days like today, I think maybe I should fold. Folding brings certainty, which would be a relief, frankly, but also brings finality, which has its own downside, so to speak. Staying in, seeing the hand through, knowing the last card is still not going to be good for me, it does not always make sense. Most days, the cancer keeps me pissed off enough, I am willing to stay in the game just to make the fucker work for its win.

Seven hundred and forty-nine days is a long time to walk around knowing how the game is going to end.