July 31, 2007

the riverbank

Where am I?
What state is this?
How did I get here without going anywhere?
My appetite is being put to the supreme test – the ultimate test.
That’s as close as I’ll get to food in this post.
Yesterday I got the word – I have breast cancer.
I just shook my hands off the keyboard as I wrote that.
Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.
They assure me it’s treatable – they assure me I’ll be fine – they assure me I have lots of life ahead of me. And what choice do I have but to believe them?
A deep voice, deep inside me is roaring that this is just not right – the voice is indignant, outraged, and powerful.
It hurts more to tell people I love than to absorb the news myself – I think…but it’s more likely I just haven’t absorbed it myself.
I kept waking up last night as if trying to emerge above water, out of a nightmare – only to realize the feeling didn’t go away when my brain came online – it’s here…all around me.
So here we go…a new adventure, not by choice, more an invasion.
I had decided earlier this year to rededicate myself to growing my hair out (after chopping it off in February) – but ha…I will head back to my fabulous hair cutter Sunil, and have him chop it – a pre-emptive strike, back to my Buddhist monk look. My graces and I are debating now on the wild colour – what the hell?
Speaking of hell, bring it on…my new and not-so-brave world of words: oncologists, surgeons, chemo, radiation, risks, benefits, survivor rates…guess I’d better go get a pink ribbon for my bumper -
I’m 44. I’m three years into a beautiful, breathtaking marriage. I’m surrounded in love and beauty by good people.
So how did I get here?
I went for a baseline mammogram after my physical this year…I went because I hadn’t been for one before.
Then I went back for another one, and an ultrasound…and then another mammogram, and another ultrasound combined with a needle biopsy (not as bad as it sounds, actually quite fascinating if it’s anyone else), then a week later: the word.
I told my surgeon that the image that runs through me is of slipping into a hole. She said a hole is only one way. I’m actually on a riverbank she said, “and we’re going to get you through to the other side of the river, and there’s a whole lot of life there.”
That’s how I got here. On the riverbank.
At the top is a photo taken from my incredible hotel room in Varanasi, India - it is a boat crossing the Ganges at sunrise.