Saying Farewell To Illness

Yesterday morning, on my way into my office in San Francisco, I realized I was no longer in the fog I’d seemed to have fallen into when I learned I had breast cancer. This fog mostly seemed to involve eating a lot of mint chocolate chip ice cream, lying around reading, and thinking about mortality more than I usually do.

Actually it was more than just that. I also felt like there was a big black line that separated me from other people. On one side stood people who were well. On the other side was me. My side was on lower ground than theirs. The ground was boggier and there were more mosquitos. It was a miasmic spot. Foggy all the time. Not one in which you’d willingly take up residence. You get exiled there. Because you took birth control pills, or you don’t know how to handle stress. Or maybe it was those three cigarettes you smoked back in college, or the fact that you don’t laugh often enough. The residents of this side of the line are not happy, that’s for sure.

Late last week, I went to see my surgeon and got a good report. I’m off to radiation in a few weeks, a procedure that’s been explained to me over and over as being a belt and suspenders thing. There’s no cancer in you, but, man, after you do radiation there REALLY won’t be any. And the worst that will happen to you is that you might feel a little tired.

I went home after seeing my surgeon to people who behaved as though I’d won the Pulitzer Prize. It was that happy around here. Me? I kept wanting to say, not so fast, I’m actually still sick, you know.

I’m here to report that the revelation that I am not, in fact, sick, was a gentle one. It didn’t hit me like lightning. It came slowly, the way the fog lifts in the city. Many mornings on my way to work I notice what the fog is doing.  Often, it’s hanging over the golden dome of City Hall, or obscuring it completely, making so much mist you think it might be raining.  Only it’s not.  It’s just foggy.  This morning it was nowhere in sight. And then I saw that I’m not a patient anymore. I’m not sick.

I went into my office and did more work in a day than I’ve done in three months. I don’t feel worried or queasy or angry. I just feel like myself. I just hadn’t realized I’d lost myself so thoroughly. But I’m certainly glad to be back. That page up top on my blog? The one that’s called “How It’s Going”? I’m moving that somewhere else. I’m done. (And thanks to the dear reader who suggested this post be called A Farewell to Harms.  That made me laugh, proving once again that I did not get breast cancer because no one ever tells me any good jokes.)


34 thoughts on “Saying Farewell To Illness

  1. Susan, You’re sweet. Thank you. And now, I’m off for a long hike in the hills. I’ve got to make sure I’m still a person who can actually walk up hill without whining or breaking down and demanding to be carried home. xo, BL

  2. I’m impressed – I never was the sort of person who could walk up a hill without whining or breaking down and demanding to be carried home – as my mother is never tired of reminding me.

    Congratulations on your recovery. You don’t know how pleased I am to read about it.

  3. Bloglily, I hadn’t even noticed the How It’s Going tab until you mentioned it today. It’s a good summary (with some good gift ideas for friends who might need such a gift…), and yet, I’m glad you get to release it into it’s new home. Congratulations on the clean bill of health, and congratulations on moving toward the next step. I’m sending you a virtual toast to your continued good health and good fortune!

  4. What a lot of very nice people you all are! Hours later, I come back and find these very kind wishes. (And no, it’s not hours later because I had to be carried down from the hill — that hike was just fine — but then we went to a baseball game and that goes on for a very, very long time.)

  5. I got thru your post on your recovery just fine because it is written so beautifly and honestly, like everything else you write, and is such good news. It was the next several heartfuls of comments of love for you that were impossible to get thru and still be able to focus on the screen by the end. I can’t even see to check my spelling. Keep hiking and writing.

  6. Okay, so I have to admit, being the idiot I am, I never even NOTICED the “How It’s Going” tab until now. But then, how wonderful not to have noticed it until you’re ready to get rid of it. Congratulations! I’m so happy for you and will keep you in my prayers. OXOXOX

  7. This also brought tears to my eyes. I noticed the How It’s Going tab a while ago and was stunned– that you had all that horror going on and still managed to post so thoughtfully to one of the loveliest blogs around. I have so many loved and liked ones going through cancer treatment right now. Your blog always reminds me of their vibrant other life, the part that’s not sick.

  8. Hello You All — (youze?) It’s a very interesting experience to delete a page on wordpress — it sorts of dissolves, in a slow fade. I like that, liked moving that page. (It’s now at the not terribly well named site: And I am terribly moved by all of you — I didn’t expect to find so much kindness in a world where you can’t actually see into the eyes of the people to whom you are speaking. It’s quite remarkable. xxoo, Lily

  9. from what others have told me, you articulated precisely the space those who are diagnosed inherit. I wish this post could have a wider audience. Others would benefit.

    How shoul a snake practice safer-sex?
    Use an anacondom.

    PS – my visits have lessened since I am without a computer and now catch as catch can.

    warmest regards,

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