Have you ever talked to something inside your body?
This week I received more good news… another scan that shows, well, not much, actually.
“No change from last scan” Translation? Stable.
“No enlarged lymph nodes in axillary region” A year ago I had a golf-ball sized tumour in this area. It was neither pretty nor comfortable… almost like having an ankle in my armpit… very sexy…
Apparently the ‘undefined’ area in the clavicular region (as described in my last scan in April 2021) wasn’t even worth mentioning on this CT report. A year-and-a-half ago, this tumour, ‘she’, was trying to kill me…
‘She’ was invading every space possible… major blood vessels, lymph nodes, nerves, and my clavicle bone…
So I named her… Daisy. I love Daisies, so much so that I chose them for my wedding bouquets, along with my absolute favourite, the gerbera daisy. I considered names like Bertha or Gertrude, but I found myself frightened at the mere thought of such intimidating characters living inside my body. So I chose Daisy instead, to maintain positive energy and conversations within.
But NEVER (ever) in my 32 pre-cancer years of life did I picture myself chatting, out loud, while walking my neighbourhood, to something (someone?) living inside of me. But I did, because hey, what did I have to lose? I was dying. People I have never met have seen the inside of my face, neck, wrist, thigh, calf (and who knows what else). I have pooped in front of nurses. A few peering eyes or questionable glances at the girl speaking absolute nonsense to someone named Daisy, who was likely perceived as an imaginary friend, was just another peculiar part of my journey.
Not quite as interesting as peeing my pants in a cafe bathroom in Greenwood when traveling back to Nelson during my radiation saga in 2017.
But that’s another story…
And so, on these long walks, I informed Daisy that if I died, she would also come to a fatal end. I wonder if she had ever considered this fact? I suggested she shrink a little so we could thrive together. I didn’t ask her to leave completely, but rather to refrain from killing me. As I watched the winter turn to spring in 2020, our conversations became lighter, the tears shifted to smiles (well, half-smiles, for those of you who have seen my try to smile with only one facial nerve), and with the shrinking (or dying) of Daisy, I began to feel alive again.
I haven’t chatted with Daisy in quite awhile. I wonder if she is still there. My radiologist didn’t feel the need to mention her in this latest CT scan. I guess I cannot expect medical professionals to acknowledge my flower-power tumour when she is fading away.
But I will never forget this growth inside me, the conversations we had, and the transcendence of the spiritual that comes with the fading of the physical world; in other words, while staring death straight in the face. This state was a unique experience, one I wish we could all experience without death looming around the corner. But alas, I guess some experiences must be saved for these unique moments.
This post was, really, a long way to share the good news that my body continues to respond incredibly well to treatment. ‘You have a few months to live’ has turned into 19 months of living well, enjoying life and considering how life might look beyond terminal.
When reading the draft version of this blog to my critical editors (aka, my children), my almost-13-year-old, who is well-educated in all-things-cringey, suggested I could have simply written “CT scan went well, thanks for reading, not dead”
And just for fun, a picture of these acclaimed editors, both suddenly (at least) 5′ tall!