Adventures With Cancer, Part 3

PART 3

The fine linen tablecloth is cool and rough against my cheek. A glass filled with ice water has one small drop rolling down the side.

Things seem to be moving in stop motion. Forks ring against plates, a dark-haired woman at the next table stands, pushes her chair back. Her pants swish rhythmically as she passes by.

Bathroom. Yes, I think.

My mother’s almond eyes follow me as I pull my head up from the table and walk toward the back of the restaurant.

It is my soon to be husband’s birthday.

My parents have flown to New York. We know I have cancer but not what type. My prospective in-laws make small talk over many impossibly small plates of gravlax, pickled herring, sweet shrimp crudo.

The white pill my mom tucked into my hand earlier that evening has settled over me and I’m moving as if through liquid. I am not tranquil but rather a storm that has been blown slightly off trajectory, weakened.

It is several minutes before I realize I’ve been standing in the bathroom staring in the mirror as hot water runs over my hands. It is the rip of paper against a jagged edge that sets me in motion.

We go home. Sleep.

My parents are in the office the next morning awaiting our arrival. My mother is dressed up. I feel like she might take my picture. Give me a spray of flowers for my wrist. Compliment my cap and gown. I am commencing into an after.

We are taken back to a small, light filled office. The computer screen is dark. There are no sharp implements. No hand drawn pictures of stick figure children.

My father pulls a tiny plastic bottle of Scotch out of his jacket pocket. He has saved it from the airplane. We each take a sip and my father presents it to the oncologist as she walks in the office.

How the hell did you end up here? she asks.

I love her immediately and with a strange ferocity. I want to climb into her lap and smell her hair.

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

My fingers and stomach are tingling. I want to take off running until my legs burn.

You have Ewing’s Sarcoma.

The thought occurs to me that I might be floating above the room.

It is an aggressive type of cancer that rarely occurs in adults.

I hear the tips of a tree’s branches scratching the windowpane.

Good news is it responds well to chemotherapy.

I hear seconds being snipped off by the second-hand of the wall clock.

When I’m through with you, you are going to feel like you’ve been hit by a truck.

Two taxis are laying on their horns. Someone on the street is yelling.

It is likely that you will be infertile after treatment.

The floor rushes up at me and I am suddenly grounded.

No.

I can’t. I won’t. We want children. We’re getting married next month.

The doctor looks at me then pulls forward a Rolodex, takes out a card and leaves the room.

My soon to be husband’s hand is cold. I look at him and we both shake our heads.

The door opens.

Call this number tomorrow. You have one month to do IVF and then you must start treatment immediately.

Our wedding is six weeks away.

Read PART 1 here
Read PART 2 here

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63 thoughts on “Adventures With Cancer, Part 3

  1. Good lord, woman. Pretend this is childbirth and push the rest of this story out of your hoohah. My heart can’t take much more.

      • I have no more excuses for refusing to piece together Jordan’s injury and recovery story. If you can do this and do it so well, I can tell my PTSD to eff off and get it done. Maybe. No promises.

  2. Oh my goodness! I can see you have two beautiful children so I know this story has a happy ending. Please write chapter 4, I’m on edge to find out what happened next! Lisa

  3. This is my first read and I am STUNNED with the amazing writing. What a story, but so incredibly written. Thank you for sharing this intimate look into this period in your life, these pages from your story.

  4. Pingback: Blogger’s Dance…Respect! | Kvetch Mom

  5. I agree with the book comments. This is beautifully written. A book seems only natural. Maybe only write a few more here, then work on putting the rest into a book. We’d all buy it.
    Love and light to you. xoxo

  6. Oh, how well I remember…………….next I went to my computer and “googled” Ewings Sarcoma and I read until my eyes became blurry. Well, I said to myself, Jen’s gonna beat this !

    I’m usually right – thank G-D. Love you my beauty. Aunt Edee

  7. This is just incredible. And your characterization of each person in your world is so damn powerful too. And I actually really enjoy the serial format, where you give us episodes, and make us painfully wait for the next installment…

  8. Ok I NEVER do this in people’s comment sections, but this reminded me of when I was with my future husband (at the time…now he IS my husband) and his family when we found out about his dad’s prognosis. I wrote about it here. http://sluiternation.com/2010/08/white-walls/

    I love reading this. It is so painful, but somehow, knowing you are alive at the end, soothes my heart. Because Cort’s dad did not have the same end to his story as you.

    • Katie, I’m so sad that Cort’s dad did not survive. Such a huge loss. My mom lost her battle with breast cancer 1 year and a half ago. I miss her every day. Looking forward to reading your post. xoxo

  9. This just got me. The whole post did, but this…I love her immediately and with a strange ferocity. I want to climb into her lap and smell her hair…oh, my heart.
    Welling up over here…

  10. like everyone else said—you’re killing me. also, i used to follow a woman’s blog a while back. she had ES. but she died. I shed a thousand tears although I’d never met her. she had two young children and blogged up until the very end. the last post was by her husband and it was just…wrenching. so i am grateful this story has a positive outcome.

    Also? FUCK CANCER.

  11. I read your part 1 a few weeks ago and tried to imagine how that must have felt. One week ago, I found a lump in my breast. I saw my doctor on Thursday and he’s referring me for scans and tests. I’m so scared. I really thought he’d say it was nothing, but actually, after reading your story again, I’m glad he didn’t. Until my referral comes through, I’m just in limbo and keep thinking the worst. Both of my boys’ birthdays are happening and I’m trying to keep it together. I can’t speak to any of my friends about it as I think I’ll just fall apart with fear. So thank you for sharing your story, it gives me hope that even if the diagnosis isn’t good, there can still be a positive outcome. I really needed this right now.

    • Rachel, I’ll be thinking about you every day. I understand your fear and am praying for the best possible outcome. Please keep in touch and let me know if I can help. xoxo

  12. Pingback: Adventures With Cancer, Part 2 | Kvetch Mom

  13. …Came to you via 5 Star Friday post @ smutzie.com
    And, so…just wow! You are an excellent writer. I am so glad I have read thus far in your story. It certainly helps knowing you are OK now. Keep writing, anything…you do it so well.

  14. Pingback: Adventures With Cancer, Part 4 | Kvetch Mom

  15. How are you doing with sifting through of all of this trauma? I appreciate the step-by-step pace a which you are revealing it. It feels real and conveys the grittiness and bewilderment of it all. I feel like I am in the discovery process with you. And right now I am recovering from a punch to the stomach. Ewing’s sarcoma? You certainly don’t do run of the mill do you?
    xoxo Ellen

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