Borderlands of Science

by Charles Sheffield

August 12 2002

Not My Favorite Column

This will be a short column, and it may be the last for some time.  On Monday, August 5th, I learned that I have a brain tumor.  It seems to be malignant, and the operation to confirm this (and, if possible, remove it) is scheduled for August 14th.

I could leave it at that, but I know from feedback from readers of this column that you will want to know details.  So, let me tell you what I know.  The tumor is located on the left side, and is either pressing on or invading my speech center. I became aware of this in early June, when my patterns of speech became less precise.  Curiously, I can control this somewhat by speaking at higher volumes.  At the same time, I realized that my typing was becoming increasingly erratic, with my thoughts saying one thing and my fingers typing another.  CAT scans revealed both the tumor and a region of dead tissue next to it.  This poses an interesting question (well, interesting to me, at any rate): might an operation restore me to my original condition, or is the damage permanent?

I should know in another few weeks.

A few more brief comments before I close.  My thought processes themselves seem unimpaired.  I have determined by experiment that my ability to do arithmetic is as good (or bad) as ever.  I have suffered no headaches, and my general health is as good now as it was before.  I have been dictating these notes, because speaking seems to be more accurate than writing.

Give me a few weeks, and I hope that I will be able to give you more details on what has been happening to me, and then return to science subjects of more general interest.

Dr. Charles Sheffield is the author of technical papers, popular
articles, and over 40 published books, including both fact and
fiction best sellers. He invites readers who want to agree,
disagree or just chat to contact him at or at .

(c) Copyright 2002 Dr. Charles Sheffield