Friday, May 18, 2012

and now we wait, for three business days

Four years ago I was a perfect cancer patient. I cracked jokes left and right, never complained, and asked the nurses, sincerely, how they were doing as they were hooking up the IV for the chemo. And I listened to their answers, the stories of siblings dying in the Filippines.

For nine months I did whatever I was asked to do. I completely subjected myself to the apparatus of a large hospital. Especially when I was going through the 30 consecutive days of radiation treatment I had the sensation of "driving my body in". No one asked for my mind, my self, my person. They treated the body, and they did so well.

Now, four years and several clear mammograms later, the yearly, routine, mammogram makes me faint. I'm scared.

On Thursday, when I had the test done, I answered the technician's perfunctory "How are you?", with the truth. I told her I was scared. "But why?", she asked, fiddling with my paperwork. "Oh, because of your previous surgery?"

I wanted to ask her if she was dumb. Surgery is the easy part of cancer treatment. You're not even awake. Maybe she thought it was a clever euphemism. Call it surgery and we won't remember that we're in the facility to be checked for signs of cancer.

A friend told me on Thursday that it's OK to be scared. I needed to hear that. I AM scared. I don't want to die. Everyone who says "Oh, but you'll be fine", have no idea what they're talking about. If we're lucky we're fine. But sometimes we're not.

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