I used to joke that my surgery was my tumors’ “eviction day.” I was scheduling their removal, their destruction– they were NOT welcome to stay one second longer. The planning was constantly on my mind, I was aiming all of my energy towards the ultimate goal of evicting these… tenants from hell.
But– my mind was not quiet about my plans– I saw so many doctors, different surgeons– I dissected every option I was offered to figure out the exact best way to get the tumors gone. And, like any landlord dealing with bad tenants– you need to make sure you have the whole plan ready to go before you evict. Otherwise, before they go the tenants will trash the house even worse, leave you with a poop-on-the-ceiling kind of disaster. I wanted everything to go to plan– I felt like I was rallying a S.W.A.T team– we were going to be organized, powerful and effective. There would be no other way out– we were coming for the tumors and that was that.
Along with all this serious planning came an absurd and existential hilarity: all the planning was going on in my head– right there, where the tumors had made their home. They were squatting uninvited in the very place where I was actively planning their demise. Could they hear me? Did they know I was on to them? I’m sure they noticed the MRI– it was so loud…
I know a lot of people with cancer will create an identity for their disease that is separate from their own. Give their cancer a name, perhaps. Imagine an epic battle against this monster that is trying to destroy their life. I’ve felt this way a lot– I haven’t named my cancer other than swear words, but I do imagine “winning” the fight quite often. I know its a step too far to imagine my cancer listening in to my thoughts– but, I mean, it’s in my BRAIN. Thats where my thoughts live!
It can get messy when you give your cancer an identity. It’s easy to hate it, but the cancer cells have no intention. Those cells just mutated in the perfect way to become little effing b*tches (Shoot! I did it again!). Seriously, though– it’s nice to have something to aim at, but the bigger goal here is to figure out not just how to destroy the cancer cells that I have, but to prevent them from forming to begin with. There is just so much to learn, so much we don’t know.
According to the American Cancer Society, outlook and emotional well-being won’t lead to a longer life-span for a person with cancer, but these things certainly can’t hurt. Sometimes imagining the cancer as more than what it is– chromosomal mutations leading to overgrowth– gives me a laugh, or more motivation to keep moving forward. And I know that during every MRI I will ever have, I’ll be think-shouting, “show yourselves!” Because only then, when I know they are there, can I plan to kick them out.