Tuesday, February 1, 2011

This Can't Be Happening

And yet I know that it is. I know it with a certainty that suffocates me, leaving me gasping for air though  my muscles haven’t moved.

But this wasn’t supposed to happen. It sounds trite, I know, but it wasn’t. I had been granted that tantalizing word, cured, and why shouldn’t I take it? I had passed the magic number, five. Hell, only a few days ago I had marked six years since diagnosis. I was a cancer survivor.

For while I am writing to tell the story of now, this is equally much the story of then. Then was six years ago, the middle of my junior year of high school, not even half past age sixteen. It was the opening day of “Hell Week” for our drama production, but instead of practicing my small chorus part I was sitting in an emergency room, sobbing as a doctor informed me my CT scan had located a large tumor on my right kidney.

The surgical removal of my kidney and five months of chemotherapy followed. I lost my hair, the nerve function in my ankles, and my appetite. I like to think I clung to my  dignity. I certainly held fast to my stubbornness, refusing to drop out and finish the semester in summer school.

And then it was over. Cancer gone, treatment complete. Each subsequent scan caused less and less anxiety.  When I walked into this year’s follow-up visit, my biggest concern was the splitting headache caused by a morning migraine. I welcomed the ultrasound as a chance to sit in a dark and quiet room.

I waited patiently after the test for the tech to dismiss me, but when she instead told me my oncologist was on the phone, my stomach dropped. I was crying before the phone made it to my ear. My doctor’s words only confirmed what I already knew: my ultrasound wasn’t normal.

This can’t be happeningThis can’t be fucking happening. I  skipped straight past anger into denial, my head swimming as it struggled to comprehend an event which I had honestly and firmly believed could not happen.

But it is happening. I have cancer. Again. So I figure this time I might as well write about it. Partly out of convenience, since my friends are scattered across the country and sending individual updates is neither practical nor much fun. But mostly, I love to write and have had so few chances to do so (at least on topics that weren't 19th century British literature). Moreover, part of me wants to know that somewhere in all this turmoil, my voice is heard. I want to be more than just my disease and its treatments to those who know me as well as those who don't.

I promised a certain friend I would try to keep this blog as light-hearted as possible. You can also anticipate inappropriate and off-color humor, as well as more swearing than most people would find strictly (or at all) necessary. However, those who know me already know better than to expect anything else.

I believe that this more than suffices as a first post, don't you?

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