We’re sitting in the living room. She’s had a bad day. At a meeting with the oncologist, who had not yet seen the results of her pelvic CT scan, it was determined that her abscess was not, in fact, small. The oncologist called a surgeon, who lanced the abscess and the entire experience was EXACTLY as uncomfortable and messy as it sounds. The site was packed with gauze, but she is still discharging enough matter and blood to bleed through her clothing.
I had diarrhea and so stayed home when she went to the oncologist, and so wasn’t there to support her when it turned out she needed me, so I am feeling pretty rotten and guilty.
Then she tells me that the oncologist did a breast exam and confirmed what she had told me earlier – neither she nor the oncologist could find Lump. The oncologist thought this was such a good sign that she postponed the next chemo treatment by a week to give more time for the abscess to drain and heal.
Monkey brain is suddenly screaming triumph, doing a victory dance, and throwing a bone in the air. Lump is smaller! LUMP IS SMALLER!
LUMP IS SMALLER!
Two-and-one-half million years of using a tool to hit and kill things that are dangerous or disliked come to the fore in my head and I imagine Lump being hit over and over again by chemo drugs and her own body’s defenses. I imagine Lump staggering, cowering trying to run only to be struck again and again.
“Die you fucker,” I think to myself, “die! Die and rot in hell!” I feel exultant. More importantly I feel hopeful, a feeling that has been in short supply despite my efforts to try to appear so. It feels like sunshine. It feels like a surprise party. It feels like a glass of water on a hot day, a puppy’s breath against my cheek, the smell of cherry blossoms all rolled up and laid on a plate amid high quality sushi artfully presented.
She feels it too. I can see the strength returning to her eyes even through the discomfort, the smile on her face, that wonderful, secret, radiant smile, momentarily unburdened by fear and exhaustion. Its the smile of the woman I met. It’s her timeless smile.that I have only managed to capture a few times, but which I treasure so – the smile that reaches her cheeks and eyes and flies all the way up to her forehead.
Its so good to see her again, beautiful and strong and pleased. She’s running a long, hard race and she knows it. But just in this moment, despite the aches and the sickness and the abscess, she’s winning that race. She’s in the lead. All the crap and discomfort and inconvenience has led so far to this moment, where she gets her first real indication that the drugs and the hair loss and the nausea and the lack of appetite and the oh-so-fragile immune system are actually leading to a desired goal. That she isn’t just spinning wheels and accruing debt.
The magical potions are working after all.