February 21, 2013

You Might Have Cancer

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What is the issue?

You called today. You might have cancer. You have to wait until Monday to find out because the clinic is closed over the weekend. You wait.

You found a lump and your doctor “doesn’t think it looks good.” A surgeon consultation is set up immediately. You call your husband. You call your kids. You have to leave 3 messages before I call you back. I say encouraging things. You act like you believe them. I think back to the time when I was little, and we were living in New Jersey, and you read me The Secret Garden before bed each night.

You have to wait a week before you find out. You think about death, but only a little. You really think about how much you hate throwing up. You think about your afghan quilt that you’ve been knitting, and if you’ll finish it. You wonder if you will always be describing it to people as, “it’s the size of a walnut.”

You think back to when your last husband was sick with cancer. I think about this annoying cold I’ve had over the weekend.  You don’t think about his funeral, but you do think about when he was so angry about being frail. You think briefly about statistics. You are now a part of this statistic. You think about your book club that night and if you should go – or if you should wrap yourself up in a blanket and cry. You even try to get the tears to surface, but in the end you decide to go to book club instead. You can’t tell if you’re in denial or not. I can’t tell if I am either.

Your other daughter tells you to practice dying like they do as Tibetan Buddhists. Your son tells you God will take care of you. You’re not in any pain, and you wonder how long that will last. You start making dinner. I wonder if that means I might get breast cancer too someday. I think about how I’ve always wanted implants.

You might not have cancer. People find tumors all the time that aren’t the bad cancer. Breast cancer is the best kind of cancer. Right? You think you might start a tagline “Breast is Best.” You consider that idea for a solid five minutes.

You wonder if you have to become one of those people that runs 5Ks wearing pink bras. You wonder if your activism will even start to annoy you. You already pledge to be strong. You read about the Lance Armstrong doping charges. You still like him. You wonder if you will blog about your experience. You wonder if you will be an inspiration to others by day and sobbing in shambles by night. You sweep the floor and go to church.

You download the latest cancer-app on your iPhone. You delete it. You can always re-download it on Monday.

You might have cancer. You listen to two TED talks. You might die. Okay, you will die. That much is clear, because we all do. Someday, we all have to. You wonder if it will be from this, or from something else later. But it doesn’t matter, because what you’re going to do is wait for Monday, and until then you have some cookies to make. TC mark

Annie Wagner

Annie is very fragile, but like a ninja, she buries it deep deep down. She also writes. Contact her at …

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