I keep putting off writing a thoughtful, well-put-together post about how I have been over the last week since I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, because every time I sit down to write, I am in a completely different state than I was thirty minutes, two hours, a day before that. I have been devastated, relieved, grieving, exhausted, happy, nauseous, terrified, overwhelmed, grateful, inspired, and thoroughly empty. I have lost my appetite and been ravenous, felt hot as a cat in heat on a barbecue and dry as an abandoned bird's nest, been inspired to do and think and feel and been lost for long periods inside a thousand mile stare.
So, I am going to skip trying to craft a witty post and will settle for writing it as it comes.
A week ago on Thursday, I was told by my first gynecologist that I had cervical cancer and that I was being referred to a second gynecologist. I was told that I was likely going to have a hysterectomy within less than a month. I walked out of that appointment feeling like I was under attack. They were going to take my uterus. They did not present any options. The word hysterectomy had been tossed out onto the table as though my uterus were no more important than my tonsils or my appendix. You're thirty-four, she said. You're probably not going to have kids anyway. If you were going to have them, you would have had them by now.
My brain railed against her assumptions about my desires and my body. NO! No part of me is garbage. No part of me is done. How can you only give me one option? There is never only one option. I went home and felt old and tired. When you are growing up, there are options options everywhere. You could be and do anything. This first, noticeable narrowing of options as I advance through adulthood is damning: I will die.
I will die. It's not at all likely that I will any time soon, I assure you, but I know we all will; I figured it out at my fifth birthday party, but then my whole life was still expanding outward. Now it is not. I was never crazy about babies or people under twenty, but I knew that I could squeeze out perfectly acceptable offspring if the spirit and flesh were willing. Now it is not that I won't, it is that I can't. My life options are narrowing remarkably already. One day I will die; as the options narrow, so does the long hallway down to that inevitable end.
There is a finality in all of this that has made me a bit of a fatalist over the last few days. I wonder what will be taken next.
Yesterday, I saw my second gynecologist. I fell in love with her. I seem to be making a habit of falling in love with medical professionals. Dr. B was warm and conversational. She let the Palinode sit with me while she gave me a near fisting in order to deduce how much of my cervix had been sheered off during my LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure). She gave me a photocopy of the pathology report, provided me options for treatment and surgery, and called me slim. After giving me all the information, she gave me two weeks during which to consider my options and come to a decision.
Dr. B did not treat me as though my body were detached meat I dragged along with me into her office, she gave me an opportunity to be an active part of the process, and then she told me that I am intelligent and stable and well-equipped to make decisions for myself. She gave me the opportunity to own this part of my life.
Here is where you will fall in love with her, too. Before we parted ways, she told me this: I'm going to tell you something, and it may sound kind of magical, but listen. Whatever your decision is, however you come to it, it is the right one for you. You can't make the wrong decision. It's magical how it works, but it's true.
So, here I sit, weighing options for the next two weeks before I move ahead with any treatment. None of the options are fabulous, but none of them involve radical treatments beyond a hysterectomy, and Dr. B made this Schmutzie feel a little more powerful than she did a week ago. Aside, of course, from the insidious cancer that is chewing its way through my lady parts, but then cancer doesn't have opposable thumbs, and I do, so fuck cancer.