A flap of flesh. A tiny dotted-line memory, etched skillfully, tucked away in the meandering folds of flesh that drape my collar bone and diligently maintained by a vain 25 year-old. A slumbering tomb, hardly visible to the naked eye unless you know its detail.
I had a blog post ready for last Friday, patting myself on the back for maintaining my challenge both in submitting and maintaining my writing throughout the week. But before I had time to proof it, I ran to the doctor for a semi-routine visit to examine Lumpy, the mass of tissue that has lived in my right breast for the better part of eight years.
“We want to biopsy it. Find out what is in there.”
“Is it cancer?” I blurted out.
A look of surprise rushed over the doctors’ faces, but nothing mattered after what I had spoken. I wasn’t there but body, my mind, flashing back three years….
The moon’s pall flooded the winding cornfields as my friend Nick and I raced down the forgotten road, in his father’s new sports car. I stuck my head out the window, letting the wind entwine my fingertips, wishing I could float off to the heavens. 3 a.m. screamed for random road trips, rages in the dark. Who was I to ignore the—
“Shit!” Nick yelled.
I pulled my head in as the car hit the gravel, an instant fishtail at eighty miles per hour. The headlights illuminated the ditch, as I waited for time to slow down and my life to flash before my eyes. Nothing.
Nothing but the slow sinking feeling that I was going to die.
But I digress. The story doesn’t lie in twisted metal, flashing red lights, or the rush to the emergency room. That was but a snowflake, the first among the thousands that blocked my view as I wandered along, until at the end of the storm: a call in the wee hours of the morning.
That is where out story begins.
“It’s a cancerous tumor. You’ll have to have it removed.”
A tiny cancerous pea slumbering in my thyroid, Gertrude, who had served me well until this time.
The next three months were a doctoral comedy of errors from the first doctor not being able to read my MRI to the surgeon prescribing me the only drug I couldn’t take for my ablation. I have tried now, for the better part of three years, to write about my experience. But the words twist about the room and no matter which order they arrive in the same hallow casing. No words could describe the mixture of fear and agony that came to pass. It is a fire. One has to touch the flame to completely comprehend.
A bevy of harsh truths surfaced: I can no longer survive the zombie apocalypse without pharmaceutical aide. Being radioactive does not give you super powers, but rather just makes you throw up radioactive vomit.
All of this, I could take. But, the knowledge, facing my mortality, at such a young age, realizing that I was not yet ready to die and the lingering fear left behind, that was another story.
As I left the doctor’s office last Friday, I handled the situation, the very slim chance that I had a cancerous growth in me (the doctors had even told me it was most likely benign) with the grace and dignity befitting of a 28 year old woman. I ran home to my mother and father and cried on their couch for three days straight convinced that, like last time, something would be wrong.
The next four days were a haze of doctor visits, work and curling up on the couch, trying to reassure myself that I was in fact being irrational. I failed until Thursday, when I got the results back.
It was benign.
I would usually berate myself for losing a week of life. However, I am working on acceptance and with that comes the knowledge that we are all a collection of imperfect stitches, carefully but tenuously sutured up and sometimes, we rip at the seams.
Now patched back up, I dust myself up and prepare to start over again.