This I Believe

Char - Galena, Illinois
Entered on January 17, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: setbacks

I believe everyone should experience one good cancer scare in their lifetime. People like me, a 52 year young woman, who lives a busy, healthy life, who doesn’t “deserve” cancer. My first thought was “I don’t have time for this”. Just like the time I spun out my car on an icy road and rolled backwards down a huge hill. ”Oh, man!” I thought, as my vehicle came to a stop, “I won’t get to the grocery store tonight!”

I believe in making fun of everything. My girlfriend and I laughed bitterly at the news, clinked wine glasses and said, “What’s up with the colon cancer? We deserve liver cancer!”

I believe the bittersweet experience of seeing the disbelief; fear and genuine love in the eyes of your dear ones makes you want to be worthy of that concern and, allows you realize how valued you really are. As your perception of that value waxes and wanes through the years, I believe you are one of the lucky ones when it bursts through, full force, when it really counts.

I believe in allowing your children to grow up. I kept the news from my daughter, a brand new mother, until I had to tell her for logistical reasons. She turned into a practical, planning, organizing version of me…but please don’t point that out to her. My son was shaken, but strong. He will do what ever I ask.

I believe in quality heath care for all. I believe in the genuine competence, caring, empathy and goodness of every health care professional I have encountered. I heard the devastation in the voice of my physician as he gave me the news. I remember the first surgical consultation, and the nurse who I had never met, weeping with me as the proposed treatment was described. And the technician who handed me the tissue as the bizarre Star Wars CT Machine towered above me. I appreciate the laughter of the doctor and nurse who tattooed the cancerous spot in my colon for surgery. “Wait a minute!” I said. “Aren’t we all supposed to be drunk for this?” I loved the nurse at my second opinion doctor visit, who looked at my scrapbook of my month old grandson and told me I was “young and strong”. I know young and strong is all relative, but she told me I’m on the right side of that pendulum. I believe her.

I believe in sweet regret. The stunned silence as I told my ex-husband… was he sorry we divorced? The jovial rallying support of my ex-lover…was he sorry he let me go? I can only be grateful that every single person in my life, present and past, seems to be there for whatever request I may have right now. And of course, I am only asking for home-made soup.

But most of all, I believe in second chances. Today, as the national news was full of reports of early detection, better treatment and the decline in cancer deaths, I had an amazing message on my machine when I arrived home. My doctor reports the second biopsy is clean. He recommends canceling the surgery next Monday and wants another colonoscopy in three months. Let me think …surgery or a colonoscopy?

I believe in colonoscopies.