Wednesday, July 27, 2011


It was exactly five years ago today that I heard the words that are life changers.  YOU HAVE CANCER.  I actually think the doctor said, “We found a little cancer,” which, when the word cancer is being used by a doctor and you are the one in the gown, honestly, it doesn’t matter how it’s packaged.  The room spins, the air is sucked right out of you and in my case, the tears just began to stream down my face.  And, I am not known as a “baby cry.”

July 27, 2006

The exact date the line was drawn that divided my life into those two distinct parts.  My routine mammo in April was now the official date of entry into the chapter of my life I like to call “Entering Fog.”  I was no longer BC and it would be quite some time before I emerged from one fog and stepped into the fog where I currently reside, the one referred to (by me) as AD fog.

Between April and July, I was squished, mashed, poked and prodded with many tests followed by more tests and then two different invasive “in office” biopsies, titanium clips (hey, are these things going to set off the metal detectors, I have a vacation planned....) and then TaDa, The Gold Standard biopsy.  By that, I mean an operating room, anesthesia and a surgeon.  Yay Me.

Every step of the way, the reason the test was necessary was explained and the explanations always concluded with me being told how certain they were that “it’s nothing.”  And, statistically, I was not being misled or coddled through the test maze.  I had plenty of time to reflect upon on how many people said things like “nine times out of ten” and “atypical cells are just that, and ONLY THAT.  They are simply abnormal but we don’t leave abnormal cells in your body.”  So convinced the surgical outcome would be a big nothing, the doctor’s preference was to wait until I returned from a long planned family trip to Italy to do the biopsy.

June 2011
“I’m more worried about you being in Europe before you are fully healed.  This really can wait.”  Concern over infection when I was going to a country where, on every block, one could find a very bright and distinctive red cross illuminating the way to the pharmacy?  The pharmacy where I was able to purchase a stash of antibiotics (never know when anthrax may regain its popularity, and no poking fun either, just look at Gaddafi-he was among the missing and is front and center again) and a cream to get rid of a skin spot……not a cancery looking mole spot, but a white dot that I knew would soon spread and blotch my perfectly crafted tan…..(begging yet another thought "have you heard about sunblock/melanoma thing, AnneMarie?"  Just asking…..).  The place where no prescription was necessary and the pharmacist, despite the communication barrier, knew exactly what I needed.  You mean THAT pharmacy?  And, yes, the cream DID work.  And no, these items were not available in the US without a visit to the doctor to obtain an illegibly written prescription.

She worried about infection and I worried about discomfort.  I didn’t need to be dealing with comfort issues on an eight plus hour flight or sleeping in a strange bed or meandering centuries old cobblestone streets in oppressive heat OR being bounced around in the back of a vehicle driven by some crazy Italian who is accustomed to the insanity that is Driving in Rome.

Did I really just pass the baton of Driving Maniac Capital from my home city to the Eternal City? The yellow cab madness in Manhattan on any given day, potholes, pedestrians, delivery guys on bikes, roller blading lunatics and the latest addition to the traffic scene, The Rickshaw..... this scene is calm?  Come to think of it, I was a bit player in one of those "only in NY" scenes the last time I was behind the wheel on a city street.

Surely this was NOT me, but yet the voice was mine....Yup, that WAS MY big mouth, screaming at some guy who, being a brash New Yorker, felt the need to tap (ok, let me get real, it's NY, it was more of a slam) the trunk of my car because I got stuck in the crosswalk.  “Yo, Dude….. I was the first effin' car. How the hell could I KNOW I wouldn't even move three feet?!"  Even on the worst traffic days, at least ONE car will make it almost through an intersection.  The traffic was particularly horrendous (gee, there's a NY surprise) and OMG, that guy had to walk exactly four additional steps and he's hitting my car??  And I hear my voice again, "Turn AROUND you dumb-ass.... who do you think you are???!?!?"  I'm pretty sure I didn't actually call him a dumb ass.  In fact, I'm certain my language was far worse than any string of expletives you care to insert after the words "turn around" left my lips.  And, I don't even think the word ass or any form thereof was even uttered during that little street exchange (wasn't really an exchange since I was the only person doing any "exchanging).

I was on my way to a doctor appointment.  They always make me edgy and besides, this old cranky guy had no right.  He’s lucky the traffic was stressing me out and it appeared I was going to be late for the appointment.  New doctor and I FORGOT to put the office number in my phone.  Gee, no surprise there....I've added a new act to this gig - I'm now lucky I remember to even grab my phone as I'm running out the door.....  I don’t know into whom I’ve turned, but I swear, if there wasn’t a time issue, I would have gotten out of the car and gotten right up in this guy’s face.  The new me.  Just to be clear, it’s really easy to be brave and bold and downright brazen on a busy NY street with hundreds of people just an arms length from rescuing me.  From myself.

Where WAS I… CB strikes again… and, that wasn't me and my usual transposition of letters and numbers... CB = quicker to type than ChemoBrain... (except, since I had to go into this explanation, I just wasted more time which defeated the whole purpose and can you see how I am my own worst enemy???)

I’m trying to memorialize today, trying to celebrate the fact that FIVE YEARS has passed and I'm OK! I’ve detoured through the streets of Rome, the back of cars, planes, an Italian farmacia (thanks google translate for accurate spelling, very important) and traveled another 4298 miles (wiki detour, another very integral piece of information that requires complete accuracy in order to write a cohesive entry) back to the streets of NY where I am ready to take down a rude little man on Second Avenue????  And, awesome application of alliteration to describe the fine people of NYC:  Bold, Brash, Brave and Brazen!

Wow, what a perfectly crafted example of the journey my brain takes me through to get to the damn point already.

And the point is, there is no longer a point.

These are the days I just have to find something to do that is totally mindless and by mindless, I mean Angry Birds mindless.  Actually, I became a Tiny Wings fan..... which, by the way, has surpassed Angry Birds in popularity.  Yes, THAT mindless.  But I DID just read that factoid about AB v TW.

It's A BIG Day.  My Five Year Milestone.  My moment to feel the depth of my gratitude.  And, I am SO grateful.....  and more importantly, I earned mindless.... Yes, I did.....


I needed to add this here.  It's one of those things that just flowed out as this day came to a close and I want to preserve these words, my own words, for me:

Five years ago I was crippled with fear.
Today I hope to have the chance to hold the hand of just one person walking through this darkness so they see the light on the other side.
And the light is spectacular!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Something to add? Do Share!