Auntie A and I

Waiting room stomach cramping

Dry lips and trembling hands hidden

Underneath a hospital green gown

Keeping modesty intact

But letting in the cold draft of the xray room

Mammogram for mama day

Breast sandwiched between icy steel slabs

Indifferent machinery radiation playing eye spy

Hide and seek with your tissue

Is it lurking here

Or there

Days pass

Phone rings

We need a closer look

It’s probably nothing, a handbook soothing phrase

Heart racing, it can’t be…no it’s not.  I won’t go there again this time

But you do

You see it again

A day from long ago

Auntie A showing Ma her mastectomy

You are ten and it’s a mystery

You ignore the order to stay in the kitchen with your innocence

Instead you rebel and sneak a peak in the crack in the bedroom and see hell

It’s a black hole where Auntie A’s right breast used to be

And the devils name is Cancer

And it is killing her

You hang up the phone in the present

Don’t say the word, you don’t have to, everyone else is thinking it too

We need to bring in the special forces of the ultrasound

Waiting room stomach cramping

Dry lips and trembling hands hidden

Beneath the plastic garment bag holding

A bra you may not need again

Two cups one breast

You start to panic

This way please you are directed down the narrow walk

The nurse says  your name too kindly

Your file is too thick

Cold table, dimly lit room

Romantic lighting for a sterile love/hate affair

Metal paddle sliding, probing

Settling on a black blob the size of a pea

Or a button

Or an aspirin

Or a tumor

Don’t say the word, you don’t have to, everyone is thinking it too

We’ll need to remove this and test it

You can go now

We’ll contact the doctor

You go home and think of that word, but this time you will say it and make it small

Just in case it’s there this time

Cancer

It’s like saying death

If you say it, it will scare it off

And it does

Until you go to bed and it lays there beside you

A hateful appendage like the breast you pretend isn’t there

The breast you have been terrified of for five years

Since they took out the cyst that wasn’t cancer

But wasn’t normal either

The one that put you on this twice yearly rollercoaster from hell

Needles aspirating

Lumps dug out

Biopsy

Safe this time

You leave the office feeling cancer free

You arrive home seeing the gaping hole that used to be your aunt’s breast

And you wait for it to get you too

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Cancer

Yesterday was a particularly uplifting day. A beautiful woman I know told me that her cancer was shrinking, that her oncology reporte was positive and that a new treatment was working. Afterward I reflected on the glow of joy in her eyes and felt positive about my own struggle with the cancer fear I live with daily. On behalf of my friend, and many others who live with this hammer hanging over their heads, I urge you to donate. There may be people undergoing this very ordeal, people that you know who keep it quiet but nonetheless soldier on and by sending in even as little as ten bucks to cancer research, you are affecting their lives in a positive way.  More importantly, there are inspirational souls being tossed about in the sea of chemo, radiation, surgery and the ensuing physical suffering who may need a hug, so give them one.  Your encouragement means a great deal to someone fighting insurmountable odds in order to remain alive. Life is precious, enjoy yours, love others and remember that we are all mortal and the cash donation or hug you give today could be an investment for you or a loved one in the future if cancer knocks at your door. Pay it forward beautiful souls.

As an aside, ‘my own little lump,’ as I’ve come to affectionately refer to it, is the size of a small pea. It is directly underneath the scar tissue of the last surgery I had, to remove what was determined to be a precancerous growth (abnormal cells that haven’t yet turned into cancer) and for a while it was shrinking but now it isn’t. I will have ye olde mammogram in December and if it is the Big C I’ll do what I always do, and keep you updated, write a shit load of poems about it and generally puke it all out for art sake. If it’s not the Big C I’ll still do the same. Either way, take care of your health, love each other, say what you need to say to whom you need to say it and know that this moment is all any of us really has. All the rest, well it is utter bullshit.

Donate here:

Canadian Cancer Society 

American Cancer Society

British Cancer Research

Australian Cancer Research Foundation  

World Cancer Research Fund

Two Abreast

Left breast

Right breast

Keep abreast of the situation

of the breast

the weight of the chest

that lies there threatening

to cut your breath

it steals your rest

this is just a test

of your breast

to ensure against

unwanted guests

who make their nests

like little pests

who could be cancer

fully dresssed

You must be certain lest

by death you are caressed

You’re just a chicken so obsessed

With your lumpy scary breast

Auntie A and I

Waiting room stomach cramping

Dry lips and trembling hands hidden

Underneath a hospital green gown

Keeping modesty intact

But letting in the cold draft of the xray room

Mammogram for mama day

Breast sandwiched between icy steel slabs

Indifferent machinery radiation playing eye spy

Hide and seek with your tissue

Is it lurking here

Or there

Days pass

Phone rings

We need a closer look

It’s probably nothing, a handbook soothing phrase

Heart racing, it can’t be…no it’s not.  I won’t go there again this time

But you do

You see it again

A day from long ago

Auntie A showing Ma her mastectomy

You are ten and it’s a mystery

You ignore the order to stay in the kitchen with your innocence

Instead you rebel and sneak a peak in the crack in the bedroom and see hell

It’s a black hole where Auntie A’s right breast used to be

And the devils name is Cancer

And it is killing her

You hang up the phone in the present

Don’t say the word, you don’t have to, everyone else is thinking it too

We need to bring in the special forces of the ultrasound

Waiting room stomach cramping

Dry lips and trembling hands hidden

Beneath the plastic garment bag holding

A bra you may not need again

Two cups one breast

You start to panic

This way please you are directed down the narrow walk

The nurse says  your name too kindly

Your file is too thick

Cold table, dimly lit room

Romantic lighting for a sterile love/hate affair

Metal paddle sliding, probing

Settling on a black blob the size of a pea

Or a button

Or an aspirin

Or a tumor

Don’t say the word, you don’t have to, everyone is thinking it too

We’ll need to remove this and test it

You can go now

We’ll contact the doctor

You go home and think of that word, but this time you will say it and make it small

Just in case it’s there this time

Cancer

It’s like saying death

If you say it, it will scare it off

And it does

Until you go to bed and it lays there beside you

A hateful appendage like the breast you pretend isn’t there

The breast you have been terrified of for five years

Since they took out the cyst that wasn’t cancer

But wasn’t normal either

The one that put you on this twice yearly rollercoaster from hell

Needles aspirating

Lumps dug out

Biopsy

Safe this time

You leave the office feeling cancer free

You arrive home seeing the gaping hole that used to be your aunt’s breast

And you wait for it to get you too

47 years  =  564 months

47 years  =  2 452.34048  Weeks

47 years  =  17 166.3833  Days

47 years  =  411 993.2  Hours

47 years  =  24 719 592 Minutes

47 years  =  1.48317552 × 109 Seconds

47 years  =  1.5 Billion heart beats (give or take a few flutters, murmur stops and terror thuds and thumps)

47 is the 15th prime number

47 has a movement dedicated to it being the quintessential random number.  The 47 society,  is  connected to Star Trek through one it’s members who was a writer for the program,  and it’s subsequent appearance in movies and television is due to his introduction of this fascination for the number 47.

47 is the telephone code for Norway

Stephen Kings house number is 47…I could go on, by why should I deny you the superstitious and joyful curiosity of trolling the internet yourself?

Oh, as of today, I have been on this planet for 47 years.  Of course, if I died, they would say I was in my 48th year, but hey, why split hairs or years for that matter.  There aren’t as many years as hairs, so why rush when you brush?  Found a lump, going to remove said lump, lump better not be cancer.  Advice:  Always self exam girls.  Always.  It’s important. Never dismiss anything as nothing.    Now, if you read this, go out and eat something terribly tasty and absolutely bad for you.  I know I will.  😉   Now if all that isn’t poetic, what the hell is?

Results

We all want results.  Everyone has a horror story of not getting the results they want.   Ever shout at someone on the phone because you can’t reach the one person in the bureaucracy who could help you?  Ever flip the bird to the driver in front of you because they didn’t turn in time and now you’re stuck at a red light?  Ever try to put together a toy or furniture, only to have your good mood make a descent into the bad mood of curses and frustration because the instructions are wrong?  Ever stand at a grocery store checkout for a half hour only to have the debit machine go down when it’s your turn to pay?  Of course you have.  So have I.  But today, I was lucky.  Today I got results.  Good results. The cyst in my breast isn’t the big C.   I’m beyond grateful and relieved.   Isn’t it fantastic to breathe and laugh and love and bicker and tangle and sing and dance and just live?  Utter bliss is what it is, utter bliss.