Up until last night, I had Schrödinger’s cancer. I didn’t know if it was gone and I didn’t know if it wasn’t, so I chose to believe it was gone. I could look in the mirror and see the stitches on my side, hidden under my arm, and believe that they would heal and that would be that. One little three week scare and poof! Cancer would disappear like a bad dream.
Then I checked my email and saw my chart had been updated. I logged in. Final Diagnosis. One lymph node positive for macrometastatic carcinoma with focal extranodal extension. (They only checked one lymph node.)
I began crying. I was on the couch. Jim heard me and came running downstairs. He had seen it, too.
Our hopes of an easy ride, easy for cancer, anyway, were pulverized. I sobbed. He held me. I called the doctor and when the receptionist answered I got out “I have an appointment Monday but I just saw the results and” and handed the phone to Jim. He explained that we’d gotten the pathology report and it was a lot of information that we didn’t understand, but it didn’t look good.
The nurse called today and moved my appointment with Dr. B. up to tomorrow afternoon so I don’t have to wait until Monday. Tonight I’ll sit with those words “macrometastatic carcinoma” and try not to panic.
Last night Jim made burgers and we had cheese fries followed by peanut M&Ms. I know I’m not supposed to eat that stuff, but right now, I don’t give a flying fudge what I’m supposed to eat. Right now I want to stick my head in the sand and eat like I don’t have a care in the world. I’m going to eat like I have the metabolism of a twenty-year-old. We watched another superhero movie. We’ve been working our way chronologically through the Marvel movies and last night was Thor: The Dark World. Dark world, indeed.
Now I’m scared. Now I’m thinking survival rates. Chemotherapy. Radiation. Now I’m thinking of not putting off any of my dreams.
Which makes me realize that I don’t put off my dreams. I’ve been living them, as much as I can. I write for a living and I have two books coming out in November. I get to teach other people how to write. One of my students is a co-author on one of my upcoming books.
Maybe that’s what’s hard? There’s no Big Hurrah? No chuck it all let’s go crazy? When you’ve been going crazy, what’s the release?
That is the release. The gratitude for a life carved out of dreams. For a life built by will.
So the cancer isn’t gone. It’s still there. I’ve opened the box and seen its whiskers. Now I know. I’ll see Dr. B. tomorrow. We’ll figure out what’s next.
I tell you one thing I am going to do, though. There are lots of places near me I’ve been wanting to visit. I want to see Lorado Taft’s statue of Blackhawk. I want to see the Japanese Gardens again in Rockford. I want to go to the Elmhurst Art Museum and see the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit with works from when he was just Frank Wright. I’m going to see all of them.
I’m also going to stop a few things. I’m going to STOP FREAKING OUT about how much I have to do. I have chosen each and every one of the items on my list, and they are all things I love. There should be no panic in passion. Only privilege and gratitude.
That’s where I return, over and over on this rollercoaster. At the bottom of the curve between fear and hope, I always settle at gratitude.