I try to walk with a “Thy Will Be Done” attitude, but I am telling you as a cancer survivor, the days surrounding the six month testing appointment challenge my resolve.
The appointments don’t loom on my calendar like they do for some, but you better believe I feel them coming. I don’t sleep as well. I’m irritable. And I rediscover my hereditary gift for superstition.
Tuesday morning I went to my ultrasound appointment, sipping my third cup of coffee, because everyone knows that’s calming.
I parked in a spot right in front and hopped out of the car into a pile of wet leaves. They squelched, so I looked down and this caught my eye:
Some folks would say “Ooooh. A sign that He is with me! My test is going to be fine.”
I said “Sh*t. A sign that He is with me. The cancer is back.”
In the waiting room, I tried to calm myself. I even texted a picture to my mom, who said “Nice message!”. But then the check in lady kept looking at the cross where I had laid it down on her desk. She leaned in and gently asked “You brought your cross with you to your test?”
My heart sank, even as I smiled and said “Oh no, I found this on the ground when I got out of the car! Can you believe it?” She patted my hand and said “You need it today. Hold on to it.” Then I heard her go around the corner and tell the lady at the next desk “She’s here for a cancer test and she just found a cross on the ground in the parking lot. Isn’t that amazing. God always knows what we need.”
I swear I almost crawled over the desk to tell the both of them “Look—I don’t even know if this cross is for me. Maybe I should put it back. Or leave it with you, in case someone comes along who needs it. I don’t need it. I am fine.”
But I didn’t. I picked up my cross and carried it back to my seat.
And I’m not talking about the stick.
Once you have cancer, you never don’t have it. You’re marked, in your own heart and by others. You never ever just have a cough, or a bump or an unexplained bruise. There is always an asterisk. And every odd thing that happens feels portentous. Why did I find a cross TODAY? Why is the nice lady speaking so tenderly? Why did she say I needed it?
Most everyone else finds a lump and calls someone who tells them “Oh my goodness. Don’t be dramatic. It’s not like you have cancer.”
But I did. I did have cancer and I can’t unhave it. Every six months I get to spend a day being that person again, the one others are gentle with and speak softly around. It makes me crazy, but it is what it is and it’s better than some of the alternatives.
Even though the tech said it would be two days, my doctor called four hours later to tell me my ultrasound was clear. For 179 more days, I have a clean bill of health, with an awesome cross thrown into the bargain.
I’ll take it.