A Light-hearted Cancer Confessional

Ok, now that I’ve let off the first layer of existential-literary steam… what do I have to say?  

There are so many things I long to tell you….

Like what a terrible word “cancer” seems to be.  I don’t like telling people “I have cancer”, because I think in most minds, people interpret that as “I am storming Death’s Door”.  And really, that is NOT the idea that I’m hot on planting in the minds of the masses.  But maybe cancer came to visit me so that I could help clear its Name.  Maybe cancer is ready to be collectively imbued with more empowered impressions.  Like “my check engine light just flashed on, and I’m gonna have a good look under the hood”.  (Unfortunately, I did not invent that cleverness, the oncological nutritionist I am working with used that analogy in her video this morning.  But it’s good, huh?)  

So yes, they confirmed tumors in my lungs.  Four.  The largest was 3cm.  But I am imagining them SHRINKING.  

I don’t believe that I have a death sentence.  I believe that I am lucky enough to have the searing motivation to do a complete overhaul of my life and wellbeing.  And I am willing.  I am supported beyond my wildest dreams.  

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!…. to the droves of people, both who know me and who do not know me personally, but have heard my story and showered me in money, prayers and love… Thank you for letting my life and the lives of my children matter so deeply to you.  The truth is that it has not mattered to me as much as it does NOW.  Since my teens, I have entertained suicidal notions, because IT’S HARD DOWN HERE.  But number one, MY KIDS NEED ME.  And number two, I *MUST* become KNOWN as a writer whose words touch the hearts and minds of the masses, and liberate the unsightly though wholly lovable humanity we all share.

But I don’t want to waste my whole free hour talking about dumb old cancer.  Ooops, sorry cancer, you’re my new best friend!  Maybe even my torrid Lover.  You will unleash unprecedented wisdom that is now ripening within my soul and I will humbly decant it for ALL.

But for now, I need to tell you what it was like to go into the hospital in unbearable pain, my stomach a tight balloon.  I had NO idea what was in store for me.  Thank GOD.  After a panoply of tests, a semi-circle of surgeons informed me that my colon was completely blocked and they were going to remove a huge chunk of it and then reattach it, so that it was sticking out the side of my belly and I would henceforth poop into a bag.  At least for a few months until I healed enough for them to reunite it with my butthole.

This was THE MOST shocking moment of my life.  

In fact as I tell you about it, my pulse is rising and it’s hard to breathe.  But I want to tell you!  Guess what I did after they dropped that bomb on me….

I asked if I could call Giordano.  

I needed some kind of reality check because the ground had just dropped out from under me.

Surprisingly, he was a bit reassuring (that’s usually not his forte) and he told me to go ahead and surrender to their protocol.  (I had doubts about this!  I still believed that there must be a mistake…)

So they strapped me to a long, hard table, doped me up and sliced me apart.  When I came to again, my body was literally thrashing like a wild animal, against my restraints.  Slowly, I was able to see out of my own eyes again and my understanding washed back in in little spurts.  I thought I must be dreaming.  The circumstances were way too obscure to believe in.  Nurses busied themselves around me, but none provided the emotional support I was desperate for.  They told me (in Italian) to sleep.  This seemed ludicrous.  But then I guess the morphine kicked in.

When I awoke again, it was to a new life.

And here’s the most outrageous detail… the moment I first saw my colon peeping out at me from the left side of my belly.  Are there even any words for such a moment???  Being wide awake… and seeing your insides on the outside.  I guess I was terrified.  This terror slowly dissipated… at an impressive rate.  And now I feel pretty damn cool about my colon sticking out.  It’s a really exquisite organ… deeep red and full of shy, succulent folds.  It doesn’t have a lot of sensation.  It bleeds easily when I clean it.  Does that creep you out?  Yeah, our mortality is such a discombobulating topic.  These vulnerable bodies.  Tender armor of legions of angelic warriors come to realize themSelves amidst a crushingly rugged backdrop.  

Speaking of mortality, I need to confide in you what it’s like to face mine.  That’s no frivolous small talk, eh?  Have you ever sat still in the center of THAT one?  

During the days, my energy is high.  I am eating such a clean and nutritious diet at this point, that I feel amazing.  I am also riding on a luminous magic carpet of prayers and spiritual protection, which is palpable and precious.  I am busy with my children, appointments, research, making the most of delicious nibbles of down-time…

And then comes night.  In the solitary, silent darkness, my own shadows and hidden fears slither in and dance mockingly about me.  I wake frequently in the night.  I feel strange, foreign pangs in my lungs.  I hear my children breathing beside me in the bed.  There is nowhere to run.  I wonder if I will die.  I reach for God and feel Nothing.  Only me.  Forest stirs occasionally and calls out “Mama, Mama…” in his sleep and I tell God that I MUST STAY WITH HIM.  And with Serena.  God I am ENTIRELY WILLING to do what I must to save my precious life.  

It’s really such a Gift.  To fondle this forbidden, mostly forsaken edge of life.  With courage and curiosity.  With tremulous flinching desperation.  It will only make me more Real.  More tender.  More awake to what I AM.