Tick-Tock

No one wants to say it or believe it.
It is endless in reach.
Life or death or just a short-term illness?
We don’t know.
It is an unknown that takes. takes. takes… mentally, and if you’re not careful…physically.
If only you could rip it out like a dentist does a rotten tooth. But. No. Not this.

Cancer.

The clock on the wall ticks… ticks… ticks…
You can’t sleep.
You feel exposed.
You feel like a stranger to your own body.
Had your body failed you or was it fighting? Was it fighting its toughest battle yet?

It’s going to be okay.
It’s going to be okay.
It’s. Going. To. Be. Okay.

It’s what you tell yourself in your head and then out loud in the hardest moments like a chant, and even more often… you catch yourself saying it to others who love you dearly in an attempt to make that moment better. They, at the same time, desperately try to say all the right things even though they do not exist. Not really. So, you feel the pain in their struggle too. You see the fear in their eyes, and the memory of their shoulders starting to buckle when they first learned of the diagnosis haunts you. A voice crack. Tears rolling down their reddened face. It hurts.

You wonder after you get the diagnosis.
Is it luck as the doctor said? A cancer this rare…
Or was he wrong: Was it bad decisions?
Or is the answer that it is… Just life.

But how did I get here?
You obsess.
What should I learn from all of this?
You dig deep.
What is the best next step?
You wonder.
Am I doing my very best to deal with it– all of it?
You watch the words as they come out of your mouth.

So many questions floated around in my head like fireworks -day and night- for weeks when there was so much grey area. I function far better in black-and-white, and yet I walked down the aisle with cancer in my face. How angry was it… stage 1, 2… 3? How much would they take during surgery? Would my face be paralyzed afterwards? I signed on the electronic dotted line with an IV in my arm just before being rolled into the operating room.

And here I am… Here I am.
Just over a month later, much of that noise is now gone.
It comes with acceptance that many of those questions never needed to be answered.

They instead are intended to tell you something about yourself and your life because in those life-altering moments all you can do is shed it all… all of the layers. You have to let it all go to keep your soul alive. You fight, and then you just let things happen to you. You let the experts work. You inhale. You exhale. You accept. There is truly nothing more to do, say or think.

The struggle and the fight can make you into a truer version of yourself if you allow it.
It can make you better.
More knowledgeable.
More understanding of what is and what isn’t.
More respectful of the moments. the moments we are all given. moments we shouldn’t waste.

I find myself occasionally stuck on the image of my face flapped open like a fish gill as the surgeons worked in and around my facial nerve, my ear and down my neck for hours. Then, I let it wash away.

That was then, and this is now.
I trace the suture scar left behind with my finger as I apply medicine.
It gives me the chills and yet it brings me peace.
Strangers would not know any of it ever happened.
What a whirlwind.
A recovery.
No surprises. Just realizations.
Necessary chapters closed.
A new beginning. New ventures.
Life. Happiness.
Love… so much love.

I am so thankful and grateful for the chance to experience all of it. Our bodies. biology. recovery. science. medicine. life. a good cheeseburger! After all, it was the scrumptious food… and a glass of wine… and maybe a small piece of dark chocolate that brought me a bit of calm then, and gave me that extra tummy love that now resides in my face thanks to a facial reconstructive surgeon who put it there.

I chuckle to myself.
Life is a beautiful thing.
Sorry bride diet.
Thank you cheeseburger goodness.

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