2386: Ten Years

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Ten Years
The ten-year cancerversary is traditionally the Cursed Artifact Granting Immortality anniversary.
Title text: The ten-year cancerversary is traditionally the Cursed Artifact Granting Immortality anniversary.


Randall's then-fiancée, now wife was diagnosed with cancer in late 2010. This is a matter he has discussed in the comic multiple times before, with Randall being depicted as Cueball and his wife as Megan. It has been 10 years since her diagnosis and treatments.

This comic is a continuation of 1141: Two Years and 1928: Seven Years, which are shown in the first 16 panels, slightly grayed out.

The first of the new panels shows Randall and his wife at a "Rabbit Rescue", interacting with buns (a recurring theme of xkcd). The purpose of such events is to get rescued (often surrendered or seized) rabbits or other animals used to interacting with each other and with unfamiliar humans under controlled circumstances, to help them be more suitable as pets and hopefully entice visitors to adopt them. Randall facetiously asks his wife if she thinks the rabbits have socialized enough, even though he and his wife are there for the sake of their own enjoyment (and she indicates that she would like to spend more time patting a bunny on its head).

In the next panel, Randall is pushing his wife in a handcart, which is presumably stolen. (As evidenced by the off-panel person asking if anybody has seen the handcart.)

The third new panel shows Randall and his wife exploring a mountain. They appear to have found something interesting, due to Megan pointing her finger towards something off-panel. It appears to be a reference to a similar climbing scene from 1190: Time.

The fourth panel shows Randall and his wife sitting on the edge of a pier, looking at the night sky. This is a typical romantic nighttime activity. The panel is distinguished because there was considerably more effort put into the drawing of this panel than of the other panels, by virtue of it being nighttime. Thus, the reflection of the starlight on their faces is the center of attention in the drawing.

The final new panels show Randall and his wife sitting on a hill, talking about how they couldn't believe that she would make it to 10 years cancer-free, which according to 881: Probability wasn't all that certain (77% probability -- the probability of picking an M&M out of a bag at random and getting one that isn't blue). Randall's wife voices a concern that she had seemingly been carrying for a while, that she was a burden to Randall, and explains that she couldn't understand why he would marry her, except as a show of grace. Randall firmly rejects this notion, stating that it was no mere gesture, but that it was important to him that they enjoy "whatever time we could have".

Finally, and as with the first comic in the series, the comic takes a light-hearted turn: because the table does not include values for probability of survival more than ten years after treatment, Randall's wife jokingly concludes that she is now immortal, perhaps thanks to a cursed artifact. Many anniversaries are traditionally marked by giving gifts, such as the silver jubilee after twenty-five years of marriage (or of a monarch's reign, or an employee's seniority within a company, or anything else). The tenth anniversary is traditionally associated with a tin gift (tin being a much more precious metal in 1922 than it is today), but maybe Randall bought it at a cursed shop.

The title-text expands on this final joke, as it suggests that there is an official name for this giving of cursed artifacts once the ten-year mark has passed. Also, it seems as though Randall has finally found a less-gross name for this anniversary than "biopsy-versary".

Cursed artifacts that cannot die were recently mentioned in 2332: Cursed Chair.


From 1141: Two Years
[Randall (drawn as Cueball) and Randall's fiancée (drawn as Megan) sit on a bed, Randall's fiancée is talking on the phone. The person she is talking to, a doctor holding a clipboard, is shown inset.]
Randall's fiancée: Oh god.
[Randall and Randall's fiancée sit together while Randall's fiancée, now bald, is receiving chemotherapy. They are both on their laptops.]
IV pump: ... Beeep ... Beeep ... Beeep ...
[Randall and Randall's fiancée (who is wearing a knit cap) are paddling a kayak against a scenic mountain backdrop.]
[Randall and Randall's fiancée sit at a table, staring at a cell phone. There is a clock on the wall. Her head is stubbly.]
Randall's fiancée: How long can it take to read a scan!?
[Randall and Randall's fiancée are back at the hospital again, Randall's fiancée receiving chemo. They are playing Scrabble.]
Randall: "Zarg" isn't a word.
Randall's fiancée: But caaaancer.
Randall: ...Ok, fine.
[Randall and Randall's fiancée (wearing a knit cap) are listening to a Cueball-like friend. A large thought bubble is above their heads and it obscures the friends talk. The text below, split in three is the only part there can be no doubt about:]
Friend: So next year you should come visit us up in the mounta
Randall and Randall's fiancée (thinking): "Next year"
[Randall and Randall's fiancée are getting married, with a heart above their heads. Randall's wife's hair is growing back.]
[Randall and Randall's wife (wearing a knit cap) stand on a beach, watching a whale jump out of water.]

From 1928: Seven Years
[Randall and Randall's wife (with her hair noticeably longer) are walking through a forest.]
[Randall's wife is sitting down, not in the forest anymore.]
Randall's wife: My toe hurts and I found a report of a case in which toe pain was an early sign of cancer spreading.
Randall: Wait—didn’t you stub your toe yesterday?
Randall's wife: Yes, but what if this is unrelated?
[Randall and his wife are going spelunking. The guide is gesturing deeper into the cave while Randall and his wife are climbing down.]
[Randall's wife stands on a rock above an alligator in a swamp, photographing the alligator. Randall is on a balcony behind safety railings.]
Randall: When they estimated your survival odds, I think they made some optimistic assumptions about your hobbies.
[Randall's wife sits on an examination bed, listening to a doctor holding a clipboard.]
Doctor: This is probably nothing.
Doctor: But given your history, we should do a full scan.
Doctor: We'll call with the results in a few days. Try not to worry about it until then!
[Randall and his wife stand above a deep pond full of fish and other objects. Randall's wife is piloting a wired underwater camera with lights.]
[Randall and his wife are standing next to each other. Randall's wife has shoulder-length hair covering most of her face.]
Randall's wife: Hard to believe—six years ago, I was bald. But today, after a long struggle, I finally look like the little girl from The Ring.
Randall: That's, uhh... good?
Randall's wife: Hissssss
[A line of six people, including Randall and his wife, stand and watch the solar eclipse.]

New to 2386: Ten Years:

[Randall and his wife are sitting in a room with five bunnies sitting around and on them. The Poster on the wall reads: Rabbit rescue.]
Randall: Do you think they're socialized enough?
Randall's wife: This one might need one more head pat.
[Randall is running and pushing his wife on a hand cart.]
Someone off-panel: Has anyone seen the hand cart?
Randall's wife: Wheee!
[Randall and his wife walks up hill with snowy mountains near by and in the background. his wife is gesturing to something ahead of them.]
[A large dark panel, to the right of the previous three, to the left in two rows. Randall and his wife sits, leaning back on their hands looking up, at the end of a pier going into a lake. The end is broader and they sit to each side of the middle of the pier. It is night and behind the lake there is a forest of pine trees. Above the three is a clear starlit night sky with hundreds of stars and the band of the Milky Way clearly visible. The trees and some of the stars are reflected in the water of the lake, distorted by the movements of the water.]
[Randall is sitting on a grassy field, a bit higher than his wife who lies on her back looking up.]
Randall: You did it.
Randall: Ten years.
Randall's wife: It doesn't seem real.
[Zoom in on Randall's wife, who is not longer lying down.]
Randall's wife: When they showed me my 10-year survival chart, I really didn't believe I would make it here.
Randall's wife: I don't understand why you married me when it looked so bad.
Randall's wife: But it was very sweet.
[In a frame-less panel Randall is standing in front of his wife, who is sitting on the ground, arm leaning on her bent knees.]
Randall: You make it sound like an act of grace, and not something I desperately wanted to do and was worried I wouldn't get to.
Randall: You're the coolest person I've ever met. I just wanted whatever time we could have.
[Same setting but seen from a distance and in silhouette. Randall's wife has lifted her fist towards the sky, and it seems like Randall has turned away from her looking up.]
Randall's wife: Well, good news, my hideous and inexplicable existence continues unabated! Take that, Biology!
Randall's wife: You failed to kill me and now I can never die!
Randall: Is... that how it works?
Randall's wife: It was in the fine print on the chart.

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There is little or nothing I can add to this except to say that there is at least one good thing that has happened in 2020.  Congratulations, Randall and Megan.RAGBRAIvet (talk) 04:14, 17 November 2020 (UTC)

I'm not sure why would counting this non-event as something good happening in 2020 made more sense than counting, for example, the 75th anniversary of end of World War II which happened in September. Regardless, congratulations, Randall and Megan. -- Hkmaly (talk) 16:44, 17 November 2020 (UTC)

Its been 3 Years since 7 Years?! Damn, time sure does fly fast. Congratulations to Randall and his wife!

I was so confused when I read the comic-until I realized it was based on a true story. This is very sweet of Randall to dedicate this comic to his wife's progress. -neverdroptop 04:37, 17 November 2020 (UTC)

Congrats Megan and Randall! - skotos

I'm not crying, _you're_ crying. Such a heartbreakingly gorgeous comic, thanks Randall. Congratulations to you both. - Excession_OCP

Same; that second-to-last panel was so sweet! -- //gir.st/ (talk) 13:19, 17 November 2020 (UTC)
Also not crying, it's only something in my both eyes. Congrats to both of you!!! -- 15:24, 17 November 2020 (UTC)
Nope, I'm crying.

This is lovely. Congratulations on 10yrs cancer free. May your 15 year traditional anniversary gift not be cursed. Iggynelix (talk) 12:34, 17 November 2020 (UTC)

The start of this topic is here : [1]. The following posts are very touching too. Thanks Randall and Megan. JulienG (talk) 14:21, 17 November 2020 (UTC)

Congratulations Megan and Randall! Many more years! -- 14:30, 17 November 2020 (UTC)

Damn, a new pandemic has arrived: it affects xkcd readers exclusively and adds little salty droplets near their eyes!

Why does the transcript refer to her as just "Randall's fiancée?" We know her name is Megan. Regardless, happy 10 years, and may you have many, many more. Duraludon (talk) 15:51, 17 November 2020 (UTC)

Randall's wife is not called Megan, Megan is just something we call her, because he used that name a few times in the early comics for that character. In this comic Megan depicted Randall's wife, and thus it is not wrong to call her that in the transcript. Just like we call Cueball Randall in this comic, but not generally. --Kynde (talk) 16:42, 17 November 2020 (UTC)
Has Randall ever publicly shared his wife's name? 19:04, 17 November 2020 (UTC)
I Googled "randall munroe wife" and the first result is an article [2] on laughingsquid.com about Seven Years which calls her Megan, but Randall's Wikipedia page doesn't mention her name at all. I think that's why I was confused. Duraludon (talk) 20:13, 18 November 2020 (UTC)

This one just makes me so, so happy. I was scared that it would be a sad comic, but was overjoyed upon reading. --Char_Latte49

The thing that struck me was what he said about "not and act of grace, but something I desperately wanted to do". And I thought, hm, isn't it both, and isn't that the best kind of grace? Grace may be undeserved, but it doesn't have to be grudgingly given :). -- 17:27, 17 November 2020 (UTC)

Grace is something you can give to someone if you want/have to make the other person feel better (in whatever degree and whatever "feel" may mean in context). It is thus per definition not an act of grace if your motive is just your own feelings ("I desperately wanted to do"). That his soon-to-be wife felt better with that act (otherwise she most likely wouldn't have agreed) is just some lucky coincidence. That sounds somewhat cold and isn't meant as such. My point is that something may look like an act of grace but isn't one. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 11:17, 18 November 2020 (UTC)
Grace is a direct referent to God (though you can use it another way, if an unbeliever). The notion of being saved is due to God's grace, an "unearned gift". You don't get it because you deserve it, you get it because God is generous. Even lacking the Judeo-Christian context, it still is used generally in a similar context -- a gift given by a generous spirit, not a gift deserved or earned. Randall rejects that notion, and says it was very much a gift he wished to share with her -- time together, whatever it wound up to be. And, in the end, that's all you can hope for, anyway. One of you can get hit by a bus tomorrow. -- 01:54, 24 November 2020 (UTC)

I have made a new series category, Category:X Years, for these three comics. Should in principle have been done after number two, but better late than never. A beautiful series. --Kynde (talk) 15:03, 18 November 2020 (UTC)

I tend to think the category is better called "N Years" rather than "X Years" since the number is not continuously variable, as x implies; n better suggests discrete numbers. Although I wonder if a more self-explanatory topic would be better, e.g. "N Years Cancer-free"? JohnHawkinson (talk) 21:12, 24 November 2020 (UTC)

I adore that panel of them sitting by the river. I wish Randall would do "serious" art like that more often, he's clearly got talent. --Youforgotthisthing (talk) 19:30, 18 November 2020 (UTC)

That frame of them walking up a mountain...is that related to comic 1190? Because it looks a bit like that. 22:12, 18 November 2020 (UTC)

Yes. Everything is related.

Um... while I love a good "citation needed" as much as the next person, I don't think there's any good reason why the Wikipedian Protestor should be mentioned here. More importantly, congrats to Mr. and Ms. xkcd! BlackHat (talk) 04:40, 21 November 2020 (UTC)