In the past week I’ve learned of two more friends who have found out they have cancer. I’m in the cancer center right now waiting for my second chemotherapy treatment, and my strongest hope is that anyone reading this will get tested. Get your mammogram. Get your colonoscopy. Get your screening tests scheduled. Find out. I was lucky. We discovered mine when it was tiny. Last night we watched The Repair Shop and the saddle maker commented about the thickness of the leather on a Louis Vuitton trunk. It was 3 mm. For leather, that’s thick. I heard that and equated it to my tumor. The leather was a third again as big as what the mammogram had discovered. Seeing that thickness, which didn’t look so thick at all, and knowing it was that much bigger than my tiny, tiny lump, I was amazed all over again that we found it when we did. It only happened because I checked the box.
Are there days I wish I didn’t know? That I hadn’t scheduled that exam?
No. Not a single one. Every single day I am grateful that I made that appointment, and although the last four months have been fraught with anxiety, fear, and pain, they’ve also been a path of fixing what’s wrong.
Even undergoing chemo has been better than what seemed like interminable waiting. I’m doing something. I’m getting rid of this. I’m making sure it doesn’t happen again.
It’s hard and it sucks. The littlest things set me off. Last night I used a toothpick. One swipe and my gum started bleeding. I cried. The rash on my hands from frequent washing, even more frequent than COVID requires. The note Jim put in the window next to the front door informing anyone who approaches that an immuno-compromised person lives inside and we can’t open up.
The constant feeling that I’m running out of time.
I’m not really running out of time. It is a trade-off of a few months of discomfort in exchange for more years. But on a micro level, it feels like my life is now a series of countdowns. The last week has been racing to today’s deadline. Eat all the food. Write all the words. Bake all the cookies. Of course, I couldn’t do “all” of any of it, but I certainly tried. I know I’ll be able to resume eating and writing and baking in a few days, but I don’t want to lose that time in between.
Is that the hardest part? Feeling like I’m running out of time, that I’m losing time?
I don’t know if there is a hardest part. It’s all hard. But there is no mistake that I know that I am fortunate for more reasons than I have to feel sad or mad or scared.
This time I brought my computer. This time I reclined from the get-go. Mom made a sandwich for me, and I’ve got sugar-free hard candies and a bag of nuts.
Maybe I won’t get nauseous tomorrow. Maybe I won’t be so tired. Most likely, both will be worse, but just like cramps or a hangover, both will eventually go away. And what I’d have would be much worse if I hadn’t gotten tested.