Answer the Question They Forget to Ask

“So how did you discover your cancer?” That’s a question I’ve been asked lately. When you tell people you have breast cancer, most people assume it showed up on a mammogram. Mine didn’t. And neither did many of the tumors in other breast cancer survivors I’ve been talking to. I found mine by scratching. Thank…

“Keep Those Cards & Letters Coming!”

Nearly every day after school my mom had errands to run. In addition to the usual runs to the grocery store, the pharmacy, the dry cleaners, any number of bakeries, and of course, Gibson’s Discount Center, we also made regular visits to two different card shops in town. Depending on where our other errands took…

Clinging To What I Know

From the first two rounds of chemotherapy I’ve been through, I’ve learned that what everyone says about it is true. For starters, it’s unpredictable. I can’t stand that. Just no predicting how it’s going to affect you, my doctor said. No predicting when the side effects will begin or subside. Everyone’s reaction is different. And…

More Than My Hair

It’s been nearly a month ago since I got my hair cut. A short haircut, for the first time in seven years. Shorter than I’ve ever worn it. Even shorter than the pixie cut my mother thought would look cute on me in first grade. Shorter than when I cut my hair to look like…

Loving a Dog

Even fewer puppies than children are planned, wanted, created purposely with the intent of bringing joy into our lives. But you were, Chester. You were planned and wanted and you brought me great joy. One night after a dinner I’d hosted for some of my college students at my house, one of my students, Tucker,…

Sometimes You Just Gotta Get the Shot

This past Tuesday I had my first round of chemotherapy and for days before, I kept remembering the time my aunt had to take me to the doctor. I was seven or eight years old and I’d gone to spend a couple of weeks at her house, like I usually did in the summers. My…

Waiting, the Unknown, and Other Things I Dislike

This morning the oncologist’s nurse is supposed to call to tell me when I begin chemo. They’ve been waiting to get approval from the insurance company. I won’t say anymore about what I think of all that. I’m just ready to get on with it. I think. Worse than waiting is not knowing what to…

The Day Before the Tomb Was Empty

The oncologist ordered more tests – more blood work, an echo cardiogram, and a PET scan – after my initial visit a couple of weeks ago. The PET scan was the only test I hadn’t been through before, but I knew it was similar to an MRI, only with radioactive dye injected into your veins…

Critters in the MRI

So the first procedure I had to go in for was a breast MRI. I’ve had MRIs before. Lie on your back, fold your arms over your chest, close your eyes and talk to yourself for 45 minutes to an hour. Talk to God, talk to yourself, just don’t raise your hand to scratch. First,…

Words That Scare Us

The first time I ever heard the word, “cancer,” I was seven years old and my grandfather had it in his stomach. By the time the Archer County Hospital doctor found it, there was nothing anyone could’ve done in 1969. So my Papa died of stomach cancer in the early spring when I was in…

Kindness. Always the Best Medicine.

A couple of weeks ago I was told that I have breast cancer. I’ve had some time now to process that diagnosis, to learn more about the type of cancer I have and the course of treatment I’ll pursue, and that’s helpful. Having at least an idea of what to expect is always better than…

“You Can Have the Town…”

Looking back I realize we watched a lot of television when I was growing up, because I remember characters on TV as well as I remember the people I interacted with in real life. Maybe it was because television was still so new, still a novelty to my parents who were older when it first…