When I learned I was pregnant with my oldest son, I was surprised and thrilled. Surprised, because I had taken a number of pregnancy tests with negative results, and thrilled, because my only request for my 30th birthday was to be pregnant. Mission accomplished. While I was deeply excited with the knowledge that my beloved and I were venturing down a previously unexplored path together, there was a smidgen of something else that I was feeling; something small and irrational...a sense that something foreign was germinating inside of me. A parasite of unimagined proportions which was growing in a way that made me a bit uncomfortable. There were so many things that could go wrong that if I allowed my mind to take off, I was quickly overwhelmed. So, I talked myself down from the ledge and chose to think positive thoughts only. We know where that got me.
Last week, I left the hospital in a pretty good mental way. The surgeon was very optimistic that my tumor was benign and that the pathology report would only confirm her impressions. Sitting in her office this morning I reflected on the week since my surgery. I thought about how well I had been sleeping after weeks of insomnia. I considered that maybe I shouldn't have been quite so quick to embrace the good news, perhaps I should have held off on the internal congratulations I had been quietly enjoying this past week. Maybe she was wrong and that little lump of tissue was hiding some secret vengeance, poised to do damage to my body for reasons I will never understand. And it was. Malignant. Again.
But, its gone - relegated to a slide to be studied and evaluated and appraised by "the team." I don't need any further treatment at this point - no chemo or radiation, just monitoring with a frequency reminiscent of pregnancy. I haven't cried yet, but I know I will. I just don't like witnesses.
So, what have I learned 14 years, 3 children and 2 cancers later? Well, there are things that are wonderful and amazing that have grown inside of me and there are things which are scary and ugly. I remember moments after Liam's birth when I wished he were back inside my womb, safe and protected, while I have felt nothing but relief to expel the traitorous cells that together make a cancerous tumor. There are some things that leave my body behind and become individual, independent beings whom I celebrate, and there are those that leave my body by a force sharper than labor pains and take with them pieces of my psyche that , unfortunately, I don't expect to truly possess ever again.
Thank goodness that I had that third sweet, baby boy because the score is still in my favor: Lives Created = 3, Cancer Experiences = 2. And life goes on.