I have been thinking about what my friend wrote here and one of the details that struck me was her experience of knowing she had cancer and having to wait for several weeks for her surgery.
And I realized that this was so completely different than my experience.
In retrospect, maybe everyone around me who was associated with the medical world was patting me on the head and playing alcoholic family, but even as they had me count backwards from 100, I never believed I had cancer.
Here’s what I did know.
I knew I had something weird and palpable right beside my right hip bone and I knew it was becoming a hindrance to my sex life, hence my eventual willingness to have it checked out. (This mass, gentle reader, would turn out to be a benign tumour, living in the middle of a wasteland of ovarian cancer. Can you say “Irony saved my life”? I know I can.)
I know I went for an ultrasound and the technician actually couldn’t capture an image of my ovaries, because of the moss-like spread of the OVCA, but I didn’t completely grok what the problem was at that point, thinking instead that it was my great benign tumour of hair and teeth and other disgusting anatomical strays.
I recall being somewhat taken aback when, after meeting with my surgeon prior to my surgery, he sent me for bloodwork across the street at the cancer agency. That was the first time I ever walked in the building and I was ready to have a full on melt down and explain to anyone and everyone why I really didn’t belong in that building. I consoled myself with the (idiotic) belief that this was the closest lab to the hospital and that’s why he sent me there (conveniently overlooking the full scale lab right across the street).
I recall my then gf telling me she was worried and me telling her that it would all be okay, and honestly believing that, explaining that “things like that don’t happen to me.”
So, by the time anyone told me I had cancer, the bulk of it had already been cut out of me and was on its way to a tumour bank where it will live with other tumours and scientists will take it off the shelf and figure out a solution for all this anguish.
People with cancer often speak of feeling like their body betrayed them and there were people who asked me if that was my experience. In fact, I felt like I had betrayed my body; like I hadn’t done enough to look after my body in a toxic fast-food world. I have never felt like my body let me down.
In the long run, I made my body sit there and absorb terrible poisons so we could just hope to carry on. And my body, against all odds, did what I hoped it would do.
That’s just a strange detail that has been on my mind these last few days.
I went to visit my pal at the hospital. It was handy because I had an appointment with my oncologist, as weird and ironic luck would have it. I had lots of old ghosts walking with me between the hospital and the cancer agency. And it is completely overwhelming how many things have happened in my life since the first time I wandered from the hospital to the cancer agency for bloodwork. One really significant detail was seeing my reflection in a window and noticing that I was walking alone.
It’s not my ideal, but it’s the best case scenario these days.
And, for those who follow these details at home, things are cool in cancer land for now.