To My Sister
I was thinking about the day the Doctor told me I had Cervical Cancer.
The ground shifted under my feet; did she say Cancer? No, there must be a mistake. I just went in for a checkup a few days before…life was normal. Did she say cancer? No, she has me confused with someone else. Things like this don’t happen to me.
I must have looked at her like she was speaking in a foreign language, because she just looked back and didn’t utter a word. I felt her touch the top of my hand…I snatched it back, as if she sent an electric charge through my skin.
No, don’t console me. She was wrong. Do I look like a cancer patient? No. I do everything right. I am kind to people. I watch what I eat. I exercise. I pray. Things like this aren’t supposed to happen to people like me. I kept muttering to myself…what did I do wrong? I spoke a little too loudly. She responded as if I were asking her the question. She said there is often no explanation as to what causes a woman to start producing cancerous cells. Did she say cancer, again? I shook my head in disbelief…will someone make her stop saying that?
She asked if someone was with me, because we needed to discuss treatments.
Of course no one was with me…this was just a checkup, I thought to myself. Treatment, did she say treatment? Ummm, how do we get rid of it? I asked softly.
She smiled. “Why was she smiling?”
There is no cure for cervical cancer. No cure?
Okay, yeah, I knew that. Breathe…don’t forget to breathe. Do not pass out. I asked her, “Why do I have Cancer”? She gave me the generic, “there is no way to know why exactly”. She went on about genetics, diet, and other contributing factors, but wrapped it up by telling me that it may be none of the above. Why did I ask dumb questions? I knew all of this.
“Wait, am I going to die?” I almost couldn’t see her expression, blinking through my own tears. We are going to try and get it under control before we have to think about that.
Try? Breathe…don’t forget to breathe, Wait, don’t breathe too hard…you are going to start hyperventilating. It’s going to be okay, but you have to get a grip on your emotions, right now.
She started telling me that she wanted to try and freeze the cells…but the disease was too progressive. We have to do a biopsy; to see exactly what we are dealing with. My mind started spinning. How did I get to this place?
Two weeks before, I was in a car accident. For the most part, all of my injuries seemed superficial. My face was severely bruised, so much so, that on my first doctor’s visit; the nurse asked me if I was a domestic violence victim. Both of my eyes were black and blue. My face was swollen, and my lip was cut open, too. There were bruises on my thighs, ribs, and across both of my breasts.
It was the bruising on my breasts, which prompted me to visit my OB/GYN. I wanted make sure there were no lumps or anything like that since I hit the dashboard so hard.
The Doctor asked me if I wanted a pap smear while I was there. I can recall thinking, no. But for whatever reason, I said yes.
Two weeks later, there I was…living with cancer. My doctor said there was no telling how long I had actually had it. She said it could have been dormant in my system for a while, and the accident could have jarred something in me…causing it to spread.
How could I go home and explain everything that my doctor just told me? I had Cancer. I kept saying it over and over again as I got in the car. I thought if I said it enough, by the time I got home, I would be able to say it without crying.
I decided, instead of going straight home, I would go to see you. I needed a safe place to go, where I could fall apart…just for a minute. I just needed a minute. I kept praying all the way to your apartment…please, God…let me have this one minute.
I barely remember you answering the door. I just remember falling into you. You were confused. You kept touching my face, looking for a new injury. You were talking so fast that I couldn’t answer you. My mouth wouldn’t move. Finally, I told you that my doctor said that I had Cervical Cancer, and I just fell apart.
You kept saying NO…over and over again. You were crying so hard; I could no longer determine who was consoling whom. I told you that unless the treatments worked, before it started spreading further, I might die. Somehow, you mustered up all of this strength and told me that was NOT going to happen.
You were an angel to me in that moment. You went with me to tell mom. It was no longer me having Cancer, but us having it. During the entire ordeal, your faith and strength never wavered; you continued to be the glue that kept me together.
You were my anchor during every pivotal moment in my life. You encouraged me, laughed with me, and let me lean on you.
And then there was silence.
I don’t think I ever thanked you enough. I don’t think I ever told you I loved you…enough. I will regret that for the rest of my life. I will regret everything we didn’t do, and all things we didn’t get a chance to say.
I love you…and I know you are living pain free so I know I must sound selfish…I am sorry.
I just miss you so much…