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What lies within

Tomorrow marks 8 weeks since my surgery. Eight weeks since part of my body was removed. A part of my body that was actively trying to kill me; growing and spreading to nearby organs. A part of my body that served a function, but now is replaced by a synthetic hormone I wake early to take each morning.

I could spend time disappearing down rabbit holes on the interwebs, working to learn why my thyroid was growing and how it had become cancerous. Or why it was cancerous, but still working like normal. Or why it spread to my lymph nodes. Or why that didn’t show up on a CT scan, but nodules on my lungs did. So many questions. But, mostly, I try to avoid the interwebs. Or even, I try to avoid the questions.

There is a willful ignorance I am entertaining right now. I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know the reasons why. I don’t want to understand the process, I don’t want to understand how I am going to ingest something radioactive and how I am going to continue to get CT scans and how I will continue to put my body in danger, all for the sake of keeping other dangers at bay.

There is an immediacy to my life, for the first time not planning for the future. I can’t seem to think much beyond the next few weeks. And then the next few weeks. Me – who planned trips far in advance, who mapped out jobs and trajectories; me, who wanted to always plan and think ahead. Now the distant future seems so fragile and scary and tenuous. If I just ignore it, it will come, I seem to be thinking.

Instead, I watch my scar diminish and heal. The visual reminder of this cancer slowing disappearing, blending in with my skin and the folds of my aging neck. Ah, it pays to have older skin. I am not overly vain, but I am happy to see it disappearing. This marks the passage of time – time that I feel ok, that everything feels normal, time that makes life is returning to normal.

Bu, when I go for runs, it is harder than its been in years. Sometimes it is hard to take a deep breath. One inner-voice just rationalizes that I sat around doing nothing for 3 weeks, that I am still healing, that my body was fighting inside to be healthy. A quieter, scarier inner voice is incessant, whispering what if? What if it’s your lungs? What if there’s cancer there too? What if it spread?

I close down that inner voice, ignoring it, focusing on the ‘I’m fine’ thing. Because, mostly, I do feel fine. But once a week, I go to therapy and, for weeks now, I regularly cry. We talk about cancer, and how it could still be there and how it is scary. And I am uncertain. And that I am fine, and not fine, all at once. That I feel good, and I’m scared. And holding those two thoughts all the time, in all places of my life, is hard and scary and sometimes draining. Meditation feels scary, writing has felt scary.

All my life, when I’ve wanted something, I’ve worked hard. I set a goal, figure out how I am going to get there and done it. Discipline comes easy(ish) to me; 5 am wake up calls for long runs, and studying for grad school, and working hard. But, here, now, there is nothing I can do. Nothing I can do to fight what might be happening in my body. All I can do is follow the directions of my doctor, show up at appointments, and be kind to myself and my body.

And so, this level of inaction, of not being able to do anything — all I can do is ignore it, to move forward, to swallow down that fear and uncertainty. And simply, to be present to what is happening right now, right here. A run that feels less hard, a bike ride on a fall day, coffee with my sweet man, sharing a good meal with old friends.

It’s no different than any other time, I suppose — a good reminder to be appreciative of what I have right now, right here. And a reminder, that eventually, that which is within will be surface and it will be the right time.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jim #

    I walked up a trail near Loon to Peaked Hill Pond. The pond was placid and reflecting the autum colors from a nearby mountain. I know you would have liked this hike, although it was not much of a physical challenge. One of the hikers I was with starts radiation tomorrow. She has many thoughts that are similar to yours. In short, thinking many happy thoughts for both of you and happy days ahead.

    October 15, 2017
  2. Carol Kushner #

    This is eloquent and real. Hope you can continue to enjoy and embrace the light–the positive and the little graces that come your way.

    October 15, 2017
  3. Lutye #

    That which you had, and strived each day for, is still within. It is part of you and will be armor. Prepared for challenges, so far, and new ones ahead. Adventures of Aurora continue. Loving yourself and embracing what you can do. Instead of leaping mountains in a single bound, or with a whole lot of pedaling, there are puddles to jump. Making splashes where once not seen. What lies ahead, a newness and awareness to be lived each day. What is in your power you can tackle, let others wrangle with the healing. Your objective, focusing on wellness. The unknown, yuck. Only so much to do. You’ve climbed or pedaled other mountains. This is a new one. Wander some. New adventures await.

    October 15, 2017
  4. Dina Strasser #

    I love you.

    October 23, 2017
  5. R.Scott Kushner #

    What Dina said

    October 24, 2017

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