Sunday, March 1, 2015


Probably Not Cancer, Fight Always

This can’t be happening to me.  How can a lump appear over night? I always check, right?  Did I miss a couple days?  No no no no I know I checked!
The doctor said it’s probably just a cyst.  He also said I’m too young for a mammogram so an ultrasound will be sufficient. 
A cell phone will not stop ringing.  Are they even allowed in here now?  I thought hospitals frowned upon that?  Grateful hardly describes the sensation when that woman finally picked up her phone.
 “Yes precaution only, she said probably just a cyst it’s no big deal” she told who ever kept calling her. 
I’m starting to think that is some sort of standard calming diagnosis all doctors hand out.  Mine was sure too until he stuck in that long needle twice, assuring me or himself I’m still not sure, but no fluid came out.  It’s not a cyst he finally said but it’s not a sentence.  What the hell does that even mean?  Sentence!!!  I wasn’t suppose to have a mammogram either but here I am, after already having an ultra sound and the doc didn’t like what he saw. 
I feel like this room is divided into teams, fear and denial.  I’m on the self sedated with fear team.  The very pissed off about the word probably team.  This can’t be happening to me.  I have to be okay, my son needs me.  I’ve done everything right, why am I here?  Why is the other half of this room in complete denial?  They are watching TV and on their phones.  Gum popping, the word probably flying out of every other mouth as though it somehow signifies a freedom of the word no one wants to say, cancer.  I don’t feel like I’m here to be told I’m free, I feel like I’m here to be told whether or not I’ll continue to be here.  Every time the nurse calls one of our names she confirms with a birth date and a head turn.  The tilted head is making me angry.  Is that pity?  This is what he meant by a sentence.  I’m already being treated differently and I haven’t been told a damn thing about my health. 
“You’ll be okay!” one woman said to me as she came back for the second time.
“Hmmm me?” I had to ask because she never looked up, looking in her book the entire time.
“Ohhhh yeah, they always calling me back here two or three times.  Use to make me look like you.  Put me in some sort of trance.  But I’m always fine.”
I’m still not sure if she’s only talking to me, or all of us as a whole.  I said thank you for not saying probably, I like that word always.  It allowed some of the sweating to stop until they called me back again. 
Go ahead lady tilt the head, there it is.
“Yes that’s me.  Ma'am, please don’t look at me like that it’s suffocating.”
“I, I’m sorry I didn’t realize I was…
          “It’s okay really, I understand, but how about a fist pump or something to make me laugh.”
After our closed fists knocked each other, I felt better.  Now I feel like I’m walking behind a coach getting ready for a battle, not walking the line of the already defeated.

At least the woman doing the ultra sound has a sense of humor.  She told me my breasts are dense several times over.  I had to tell her hey, you know what I’m going through here, cut the crap, I have small tits!  It’s like a doc telling you a little bit of pressure when we all know they damn well mean pain.  Any likelihood of Breast Cancer need not be coated with any nicety or political correctness.  The woman performing my mammogram is a bit irritated having a difficult time getting my breasts in that machine.  How do you think I feel?  I have no idea if this breast squashing machine which turned into a neck pulling machine is going to tell me I have cancer.  That I’ll be fighting for my life or any probably that could possibly come after this. 
          Hospital gowns are superhero capes.  I sat there screaming in my head that I don’t deserve this, but nobody does.  The gown gives off some sort of aura that makes people treat you differently.   Or maybe it was all in my head and I just felt different.  I am cancer free.  It won’t be the last time I wear that gown, but I swear it will no longer make me feel sentenced, but a superhero instead.  For weeks I was losing my mind but I never did hide it.  I cried when I needed to cry and screamed when I need to scream.  There is no shame in any feeling that a person goes through when faced with something that no one deserves.  Coming face to face with a probably that could possibly be cancer is a challenge, a battle, a test, whatever you are comfortable calling it.  But none the less it’s all scary, just don’t let the fear turn into denial and make sure every precaution is taken, fight always.


  1. This memoir is incredible. Knock Down Drag Out Fucking Brilliant! I'm a thyroid cancer survivor and I was stunned at your ability to fully encapsulate the emotion of fear and determination in your memoir.
    Your voice is strong even when its quivering with fear and I felt everything you put down on the page. You have a command of language that is beyond what I usually read from my peers and I applaud you.
    While this memoir won't be for everyone because of the difficult subject matter that does not detract from its power. This is a memoir for the people that need it.
    Your use of music and photos compliments your story but perhaps does shock the reader out of the story a bit (the photo more than the music because that's at the end) but perhaps that is your intent, to shock the reader from the world you've created only to suck them back in.

    You should be incredibly proud of this memoir.

  2. Nice job developing certain aspects of storytelling; the dialogue and raw authentic voice you weave in work well. Might want to work a bit more on saying more with less in spots. Don't rule out developing your sensory imagery a bit more.