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.)