Adventures With Cancer, Part 2


I have cancer. I don’t think I’ll be coming back to the office today.

The receiver is heavy in my hand, lands with a dull thud in its metal cradle.

I consider staying in the phone booth. Consider opening the accordion door and sitting down on the hot sidewalk in front of Gray’s Papaya. Both seem viable choices to make at the moment. To just remain before.

Somehow I am in a car. My hand remembers the weight of the phone. I could still be in the muffled booth if I just close my eyes.

My not yet husband drives us uptown to an address that is embossed in black letters on a white business card balanced neatly on his knee.

We are making small talk. I speak in the voice of one who is carrying around a bomb protected by an eggshell.

The hallway is quiet, airless.

I am thinking about the group of people I saw the week before when I was running along Riverside Drive. How they were huddled together watching a man poised at the top of an apartment building’s ledge. The only sound was from one bird calling, calling. All those people dressed to go to work, in suits, pantyhose, heels. Just standing there, looking up, not saying anything.

With my index finger I draw and redraw the line on my palm that captures the meat of my thumb in a half-moon. My soon to be husband is speaking to a receptionist.

Soon I am sitting in a small white room, in a chair with a tiny table attached. It seems to be a school desk but has no place to store a pencil or small pink eraser.

What kind of cancer do I have?

The nurse has a thick rubber band around my arm.

Make a fist.

The jab of the needle is a relief.

I don’t know. The doctor isn’t here today.

She lines up vials of dark red blood each with a different colored stopper.

Come back on Monday. 

It is my soon to be husband’s birthday.

You can go.

It is six weeks before our wedding.

Read PART 3 here

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63 thoughts on “Adventures With Cancer, Part 2

  1. Gripping. I’m waiting for Part 3 mainly because I know you’re a 10-year survivor and I love happy endings. You aren’t gonna spread this into 10 parts, are you? Moar…

    • Erica, At the rate I’m going it will definitely be in at least 10 parts. It was all so visceral, I kind of have to write it from my organs on out…that probably doesn’t make sense. Oh, well. MWAH!

  2. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call a cliffhanger ending! I agree with Erica. This is only bearable because I know how it ends. You have an amazing memory for details, Jen, more than 10 years later. Keep them coming, and happy anniversary!

  3. Wow. How devastating. And they couldn’t even tell you any more than that?! I can’t even begin to imagine.

    Your descriptions here are extraordinary. The details you remember and recount so vivid. The business card on your husband’s knee for example…the memory of the man on the building about to jump & the people watching him.

    ” I speak in the voice of one who is carrying around a bomb protected by an eggshell.”

    I feel like I am there with you. Thank you for sharing. I obviously need to go back and read Part 1. Beautiful writing.

  4. Ok i’m going to cry when I read these( 10+) posts no point in denying it— Who hoo for 10 years- Happy that your around to call my friend and inspiration :)

  5. Incredible. What writing! So moving and vivid and gut-wrenching. I’m looking forward to more, knowing there’s a great ending. (I’m sure this has been hard to write…be kind to yourself.)
    SO glad you’re okay. xo

    • Yuvi, Any time you read my blog and comment I get a writerly boner. Is that wrong to say? It’s just so exciting! Ok. You’re never ever going to want to meet me in real life now. :)

      • Totally the opposite: I’ll take all the writerly boners I can get.

        But if this discussion has made a real life meeting even more socially awkward than normal, we can use Liz as the facilitator.

        • HA! I think you & I are both awkward enough that our combined awkwardness makes a cancellation of sorts, yes? I think we should get together with Lizzie when she gets back from Paris. We can talk about the Arch de Triomphe and boners. It’ll be a gas. :)

  6. So raw and honest. I feel like i am watching it all happen through a fuzzy screen. Celebrating your 10 years of kicking cancer’s @$$. I agree..this is your book…your story!

  7. I heart you. You brought me back to the waiting room with you. I hated that place. It wasn’t my appointment but I felt like I was there with you. So glad that was 10 years ago. xoxo.

  8. You have captured your early feelings of hopelessness and despair so strongly here. I hope your story helps someone in a similar position. And I was really REALLY relieved to read the first comment alerting me to your ten year survivor status.

  9. i know the outcome of all of this since, hello, I am reading your blog. But I am still on the edge of my seat. And feeling so honored to be witness to your writing this out. xx oo

  10. Oh my, but you create the mood. I can feel this streaming out of your pores. So glad I know the ending because it allows me to enjoy the beauty and craftsmanship of your writing. Ellen

    • Thank you, Ellen. I think it took the 10 year anniversary for me to be able to write about this experience. I think I needed that milestone to feel safe to move forward. Exhale.

  11. Pingback: be generous | Fancy Feet

  12. What an incredible story. I’m hooked and can’t wait to read more. I’m also so very glad that this is a past tense suspense that we already know it has a happy ending.

  13. Pingback: Adventures With Cancer, Part 3 | Kvetch Mom

  14. Pingback: Adventures with Cancer Part 1 | Kvetch Mom

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

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