Saturday, January 22, 2022

The Monitoring System

 I had cancer.  Had.  It’s supposed to be gone.  I knew when it was in my body, knew enough to pester doctors until I got the diagnosis.  I had a double mastectomy at 38 years old.  It’s gone now.  But I’m hyper aware of every little twinge and pain.  Some days a headache.  Is it the fluorescent lights at work?  The hypervigilant monitoring system in my head is in overdrive and it diagnoses brain cancer.  Today a sore right knee.  Did I pull a muscle?  I went to my nephew’s birthday at a trampoline park last week.  But the monitoring system tells me I now have an osteosarcoma, most commonly presents in the knee or arm.  A new cancer, a second cancer.  Or an undetected metastasis of the first cancer, the cancer they were supposed to cut out.  The monitoring system makes it so I can’t think of anything else.  

 I can’t hate the monitoring system, it got me more time with my family, more time to live.  But how much more time?  Because that’s the thing that keeps me up at night.  How much more time?  If the second cancer, or the recurrence, or whatever other illness the monitoring system detects happens in my 80s, that is fucking fine.  But I’m 38 and I have so much left to do that it is overwhelming.  The terrifying thought that I could leave behind 3 children and an unprepared, overwhelmed husband is enough to make me feel short of breath.  Cancer left me with the lingering sensation that I should be doing something more with my life, something meaningful, impactful, memorable.  But everyday life isn’t always filled with these things.  Everyday life is sometimes just lugging around the carpet cleaner scrubbing pet stains out of the carpet for the millionth time while the kids watch their tablets.   And I don’t know how to reconcile these things right now, the gloriousness of having survived combined with the fear of what the future holds. 

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