Tiny Memoir: I Live in Cancer Land (At Least for Now)

Photo by Jean Elizabeth Glass

You might remember that I am caring for a dear friend with cancer. That’s how I know that Death is Only Real for the Living. Sadly, she is not, as we hopefully say, living with cancer. It is killing her. Not today, and probably not in the foreseeable future, but it will kill her.

I recently found out that one of my partners, Jeanne, has breast cancer. I hasten to add here that she has “the good kind”. Apparently there is a good kind of cancer. It is treatable and unlikely to be fatal. Those are both very good things. It is still cancer. It measures 0.9 cm, and you can’t feel it.

I am once again at the precipice of a whole new world of medical jargon. One simply does not biopsy the lesion. One uses “ultrasound guided biopsy” to investigate an “area of architectural distortion in the right breast at 9 o’clock posterior depth”. And then one doesn’t just tag it, so a surgeon can find it later. One is informed that the “placement of a clip was successful”.

As far as breast cancer goes, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, which sounds terrifying, is fairly routine. Hers is small and can be removed with a partial mastectomy and, bonus round, since she will then be “uneven” she can have a breast reduction paid for by insurance. She is very happy to think about no longer being a DD.

All of this is good news, in so far as cancer is ever good news, but it leaves me exhausted. Instead of coming home to a cancer-free environment, I am going to new doctors, at a new hospital, with my partner. I know that the recurrence rate is very low. I know that the surgery is routine. I know that Jeanne is going to be fine, but still, there is a lingering worry. A small bit of doubt that all will be well. Once you’ve entered Cancer Land, nothing seems small, routine, or risk-free, and you realize that, no matter the outcome, you will not leave Cancer Land as the same person who entered it.

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I write things. A lot. I love to travel and plan to travel full time in 2022. I also do editing and content creation. You can find me at wordsmithweb.com

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