| Musings |

Good, Better, Best

Here’s where I know lumps should not be: cake batters, mattresses, and body parts


Waiting for pathology results is an interesting way to practice both patience and denial. I’m getting pretty good at it — though not good enough. Let’s just say I’m better at one than the other. Wanna guess which?

In the past month I’ve had a doctor tell me that the biopsy results were cancer. My reaction? Think deer in the headlights. For not-long-enough I carried that sacred secret carefully (is there any load heavier than a secret?) with my life partner, and only after I let my new reality settle, was I willing to guardedly tell my loved ones. That last step was the most difficult, because after sharing this kind of news everything changes — forever.

You can almost predict some of the reactions. There are those whose quivering voices, silent tears, and throbbing hearts that you can almost feel, give them away. Others become tongue-tied, trying too hard not to trip over their awkward silences; and the “always sisters” find incredible ways to instinctively “sister.”

The ones who shared their cookies in camp are the same ones who will rally ‘round. Those who were always secretive don’t want to know more. The “it’s all about me” division will turn themselves into pretzels making sure you don’t forget who the main character should be.

New semi-strangers may become safe sounding boards. Muffins, soups, salads (good) and chocolates (better) suddenly appear. My daughter felt that such news deserves a nice piece of jewelry — because shouldn’t everything be celebrated with a nice piece of jewelry? You can tell who gave birth to her…

I’m not quite sure where they should be, but here’s where I know lumps should not be: cake batters, mattresses, and body parts.

In the past few months, I’ve been pinched, poked, jabbed, pushed, pulled, scanned, rescanned, biopsied, weighed, measured, and had surgery. The incisions are healing, and except for the twinges of shock and disbelief, things are moving along.

And then come the after-shocks: because the “margins aren’t clean” from the final results of the pathology report, and following the decision of the Tumor Board (yes, really), I get to do it all over again next week.

One of the most challenging aspects of moving from there to here is not having a handle on the medical community and all the ramifications this knowledge encompasses. There, if I didn’t know who, I knew who knew who and I had a much wider reach. Here I am dependent on others for medical referrals, and that has made me feel much more vulnerable than I care to admit.

I am, mostly, good; I’ll be better; I’ll just never be the same. I’m a wife, a mother, and a grandmother, and now I’m also a statistic. A lot comes home to bear when one has a perspective borne of experience.

My education has expanded, and I can rattle off medical terms and vocabulary with the best of them. You cannot imagine how many tests and protocols there are that combine letters in the alphabet (all caps — and some with numbers for added measure) that I can neither pronounce nor remember. Nor do I want to. I’ll pass on the graduate courses.

Once you’ve got the oncologist on speed-dial, your priorities change. Coming face to face with my own mortality has been sobering; no place to run; no place to hide. It’s a lot like weigh-in at Weight Watchers in a week where the fork won.

As I was getting myself nice and comfortable on the operating table, the surgeon said, “Now let’s get that nasty thing out of you,” to which I immediately replied, “This cancer has been my friend — let’s treat it with respect. You cannot imagine the things it has taught me.” She took it out anyway.

I’ve gained a remarkable clarity I didn’t  think possible, as well as a much deeper connection to my Creator. The first time someone asked me for my full Hebrew name I was so taken aback, the words got stuck in my throat. Am I really that sick? I wondered.

And then I thought to myself, how often do I have the opportunity to walk the walk and talk the talk? Am I not totally in His hands?

He knows who I am and He doesn’t make mistakes, so this must be something I have to experience and somehow gain from. Haven’t He and I nurtured a life-long relationship just for braving moments like this?

I’ve lived a blessed life. In marking decades, I’ve moved to the digits on my second hand. I’ve done the same, and more, with blessings. Does it get any better than that?

My life partner has become my rock, my support, my champion, and my protector, and that’s pretty good for a guy in rose-colored glasses who never rode a white horse. Problem is that his cape tends to get stuck in his suspenders…

So onward we go — one step at a time — and I’m looking forward. I’ve gained a deeper appreciation of blinders and staying focused has become my full-time job. I keep challenging my consciousness to find a place for each and every delicious memory.

Meanwhile, when I call the kids, they pick up; so do the friends who are family and family who are friends. I’ve renewed my Subscribe and Save on Amazon, and I’ve just held our newest grandbaby.

I wonder about being there for her life-cycle events and I hope that I get to wear a navy gown at her wedding — it’s my best color.

Hubby can wear his matching cape.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 766)

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