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Remembering cancer

Monday, March 14, 2005
Thank God I don't have it anymore!!! Today was the day of my 6 month checkup. Lacking two weeks, it's been exactly half a year since I had my hysterectomy, which got me thinking about ... stuff.

I think I can say without reservation that it's been one hell of a year. If I were a normal person with normal nerves and normal reactions to hellish things happening, I'd be in the loony bin. It began with the fear of cancer. Just an abnormal Pap smear when they'd always been blessedly normal before. Then the second Pap smear (the painful one) on the day the movers came to begin packing us out. We arrived in the States, signed all the paperwork and moved into the house with an air mattress and a card table borrowed from our neighbors. Early one morning, I got a call from England saying, "Did you get the letter yet where we tell you you have cancer? No? Well, you have an endocervical adenocarcinoma. That's cervical cancer." I cried.

After that there were a lot of things to put on my To Do list. Insurance, doctors, more doctors, exams, more words being thrown at me. I don't listen particularly well. For some reason, unless it's written down, it all goes in one ear and out the other, no matter how hard I concentrate. I have to write it down and review notes later so I can work things out.

Then it seemed like I spent an awful lot of time waiting for things to happen. Waiting for our household goods to arrive, waiting for the biopsy surgery, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Through it all I smiled. I was gracious. I was freakin' hilarious about the whole thing. But all day, every day, the word lurked in the bottom of my mind. Cancer. Sometimes it would leap out as I was doing something. I'd be washing the dishes and suddenly I'd remember. I have cancer. My heart would slam into my ribcage, but then I'd shake my head. No worries. They caught it early. So early you can barely tell it IS cancer. They'll be able to get rid of it with surgery. Platitudes to bury the fear. I felt guilty for even thinking I had "real" cancer when there were so many who were so much worse off than I was.

In the midst, there was still the laundry to do.

My mom came to be with us for the biopsy because I didn't know how long I'd be laid up. Turned out that it was only a couple of days, but she was here for two weeks. I'm an inside person, mom's an outside person. She hand-weeded the entire garden. I read.

We got the results and scheduled the hysterectomy. More words flying past me. This time I did some research on what would happen. Every day, I got more tense. My friends complimented me on my grace, the ease with which I handled what was happening inside my traitorous body. I felt sick inside every time they said it. How could I admit my fear? Admitting my fear meant the fear -- and the cancer -- were real and I was determined to believe that they weren't really, truly real. That this was just another day in the life.

I had a minor explosion about a week before surgery. It suddenly became clear that my life was going to change irrevocably. I couldn't be sure if it was for the better. Suddenly, the bubble burst. I screamed, threw an empty box and burst into tears. Words spewed out of me. What if? What if they didn't get it all? What if it hurt? What if it took months to recover instead of just a few weeks? What if things went wrong and I was never the same? My kids came running because I had screamed. I couldn't stop crying and they kept pushing at me to see what was wrong. I was so angry with them. All I wanted to do was finally cry. Finally let it all out. I was entitled, dammit!

But I couldn't. I stopped crying because it scared everyone. And I resented the hell out of the fact that I had to stop.

Today I cried. I cried because I had cancer and now I don't. I cried because of the hell I put myself through by not crying. I cried because I earned the right to cry. I cried because I don't need to anymore.

I had my hysterectomy and was up and about in a week. Haven't had any trouble since then.

Today I remember cancer so I can celebrate my freedom from it.

Happy No More Cancer Day!!!
3/14/2005 02:46:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 19 Comments


I'm so glad you're cancer-free now, Sela!

By Blogger ma, at 5:19 PM  

Hugs - I just wish now like I wished then that you had been near enough for me to hug you in person instead of over the computer.
God bless you sweetie.
love Nell xx

By Blogger Nell Dixon, at 5:41 PM  

Happy, happy, HAPPY no more cancer day!!!!!

By Anonymous Jill, at 7:16 PM  

ah, Sela, Happy No More CAncer, Ever, day. ::heart::

By Blogger Jaye, at 8:22 PM  

hey there Sela,
I've been keeping tabs on you through this blog, I miss you terribly! and wish I could give you a hug too! I'm not a great writer by any stretch of the imagination, but I hope that you can feel the overwhelming relief and happiness that I have for you! All of our love to your family,
Happy No More Cancer Day!!
Love, Shriek

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:47 AM  

Thanks, y'all. It has meant a lot to me to have my online buddies during these times. I was in a world of hurt when my computer died! And everyone, Shriek is my bestest buddy from college. Shriek, this is everyone. Everyone, this is Shriek. :-)

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 8:50 AM  

Sela, I'm SO happy for you! And yes, cry, let it out. I'm so glad about how things worked out.

By Anonymous Suzanne, at 8:52 AM  

How absolutely wonderful. I am SO pleased for you. You are a survivor and inspiration.

By Blogger Michelle Styles, at 10:01 AM  

You know what I'm most glad about? I'm glad you cried today.

I was so worried about you because of those 182 days (okay, maybe one less for the box throwing incident - why wasn't it full?) you didn't cry.

I tried to explain the importance of crying to Husband last night. He didn't quite get it, thought I'd done enough on Wednesday night, and I could see the relief that he hadn't been there, bless 'im. ;-)

I felt like saying 'I'm not DONE yet'.

Anyway, I'm glad you're clear, I'm glad you're happy, but most of all I'm glad you cried.

Happy No More Cancer Day, Sela.

And hi Shriek! :-)

By Blogger Anna Lucia, at 1:20 PM  

Wow! What an amazing survival story. Happy No More Cancer (no more, not ever) Day!

By Blogger Kat, at 2:43 PM  

Happy No More Cancer Day, Sela! And may you never revisit those 182 days.

By Anonymous Shannon, at 5:11 PM  

Happy No More Cancer Day, Sela! And may you never revisit those 182 days.

By Anonymous Shannon, at 5:11 PM  

This is a very emotional post, and the words cannot express it. I'll still try: hugs, Sela, and I'm so happy those 182 days behind you. I'll repeat after others: Happy No More Cancer Day!

By Anonymous Olga, at 2:58 AM  

Sela, your post brought tears to my eyes. Am so pleased you have the all-clear. Just wish you were near enough for me to give you a proper hug and glass of decent wine (and *cough* gianduja) instead of the cyber versions. Kate H xx

By Anonymous Kate Hardy, at 5:58 AM  

Thanks again to everyone for your loving support. And Anna, the box was empty because I had just unpacked it. Had it been full, though, I would still probably have thrown it! :-)
Could use that *cough* gianduja today, Kate. Still haven't gotten to the World Market to get any.

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 2:31 PM  

Awesome post, Sela. I am so happy for you! Hugs!

By Blogger Dana, at 2:10 AM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger Raida, at 11:39 AM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger Raida, at 11:54 AM  

*Sorry 'bout the boo-boo*
I am so glad I've stumbled upon your blog! That was a wonderful, heartfelt post and it brought me to tears. Tears for your tears, your strength and courage, past, present and future.
May you always rejoice in Happy No More Cancer Day!

By Blogger Raida, at 11:55 AM  

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