[cancer] The Fear pays me a visit

Settling in on the plane, I made a casual joke to my seatmate about how any day you wake up above ground with no bars on the window is a good day. (No, it’s not that funny, but it had context in our brief conversation.) That bit of silliness opened the door to the Fear.

The Fear is never too far from the place behind my eyes where the “I” lives. Legacy of the cancer, for me, of course. I never had it before getting sick last year. Though there are certainly other kinds of fear, this one is my own special brand. My digestion has never been quite the same since the cancer, so even without wisecracks or occasionally noticing my surgery scars in the bathroom mirror, I have an everpresent reminder.

Now, of course, the anniversary of the cancer approaches. I’ve never been big on special dates. Probably legacy of the moveable feast that was my birthday in childhood. We moved every year or two — the longest we stayed in one place was three years, once — and always right at the end of the school year, where my birthday falls. Even on years we didn’t move, we tended to take family vacation or home leave right then. My birthday was celebrated far more often at random times than ever it was on the date of my natal anniversary, often more than once.

So it is with the cancer. No one knows when it first began. I don’t have April 29th circled on the calendar to mark its visible onset in my life via ER ambush. In fact, that’s a date I have to look up. May 9th, the date of my surgery, is engraved in my consciousness, perhaps because I approached that event with malice aforethought and much worry.

A cancer season has been added to the calendar of my life. Right now and for the next few weeks to come the wind blows out of the sign of the crab. My scar aches in my mind, even when the seam in my body is quiet. We will celebrate this season, my body and I, with observances of the Fear, bouts of unpleasant memory, a continual carrier wave of gratitude, and (on May 14th and 15th) medical tests to ferret out any evidence that my most intimate enemy has not yet left the stage.

Afterwards, there will be a party with my family, a few close friends, and . A way to banish the Fear until the next cancer season. Or, if the worst happens during the tests, a way to celebrate a new cancer season, and launch me on the path of its defeat.