Like other points in my life, when things get hard, I grow silent...
...And I write.
Every year in The fall when children get ready for a new school year, and parents feel the relief of institutional daycare begin, my PTSD kicks in, really bad. My cousin Zahira died in September.
I was diagnosed with Cancer In September. Jason got sick in October. Every Fall I have to force myself to function like a human being and put all the damaged memories of fall anniversary’s past in a closet that threatens to burst open.
Every year for the last 3 years, end of August into September I glow in the dark as we hunt for cancer. I was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma a few years ago. I fought it and won. This year my symptoms scared the shit out of my oncologist so bad he made me take test after test to make sure he didn’t miss something. I have a 22 yo, a 9 yo, a 6 yo and a 1 yr old, yea I started all over, (insert grandma/mommy jokes here). Needless to say, I have a lot I want to live for. I also am very realistic and believe that last wishes if left undone would be fucked up. Three years ago when I was told I had cancer, I was so blindsided. I was so insanely coated in rage for the unfairness of life that I became crazed with making sure all my affairs were in order. I planned my funeral, I made videos for each of my kids and I realized that I wanted all my preparations done early in my diagnosis before I was riddled with stress and possibly fighting for my life. Glory be to God that my cancer was removed leaving me most of my kidney, and my life.
This year, I was once again caught off guard. I hate that shit. Cancer caught me off guard-a fucking gain. I love my oncologist because he is the coolest talk-no-shit doctor on the planet. He is matter of fact, never jumps the gun, and is always calm until we know for sure. But this time. This time he was not his usual self. When I told him my symptoms, he explained that I am exhibiting symptoms of possible metastatic cancer. He never talked to me like that. Dr Cool terrified the shit out of me.
When I went home that night, I had to perform my mommy duties, my housewife duties, my dog mom duties and pretend like I did not hear what I was told. The next day I went to work and dealt with the day to day, and in the back of my mind I had to remind myself I had to make appts to search for cancer that may have migrated within my body. Oh, and I remembered I had to make a video to the baby saying goodbye to keep just in case, because again, I wanted to have things planned before they had to be done quickly under extreme stress. It is morbid, and it is crazy. But the thought of any of my kids wondering how much I loved them Kills
Me Worse than the thought of any cancer could.
When your mortality is threatened your mind is chaos. Somehow you have to find a way to function. Worrying is praying for something you don’t want. I recited that last sentence like a Buddhist chant, all day everyday. I needed a moment to digest what the doctor told me and kept to myself for a bit. As the news became more palatable I began to prepare my world. I told those who needed to know. I spoke to people I barely spoke to. Suddenly It seemed like pettiness was ridiculous. Whatever disagreement I have had with anyone is officially squashed because I don’t want any toxicity. I want to know that in the end my conscious is clear. Maybe that means saying too much, Maybe that means not saying enough. Each person I engage with is different. It was liberating...
As I performed scan after scan, I had hoped for some reassurance that all was well. A chatty technician here, an over confident medical asst there. This year I got nothing. I got the most rigid And tight lipped medical professionals I have ever encountered in my life. Every exam left me with a tighter not in my throat and no additional information.
Everyday I functioned like normal while the anxiety of unknown weighed on me. My Last test was Saturday.
Today the doctor called.
“Irene, you got 99 problems but cancer ain’t one.”