Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The first word

Today I went to MD Anderson for my 30th radiation treatment. For the last 30 weekdays, I’ve headed down to the medical center, parked in the depths of the massive parking garage and headed up the R elevators to the Radiation Oncology department. Every day, I change into a hospital gown, sit in a tiny room with 7 other women also waiting for their treatments, walk into a thick-walled vault and lay down on a metal table and let the eye of the giant machine shoot radiation into the tissue around my heart and my lungs. Then I get dressed, say bye to all the women who are still waiting and go to work.
I’ve been contemplating how to answer all the people who ask me, “How’s it going?” and I’ve come up with three descriptors. Here’s the first: Lucky.
I’ve never felt so lucky in my life. It’s impossible to sit with my diagnosis in a room with 7 other women with very different diagnoses and not feel incredibly lucky. I caught it myself. I caught it early—insanely early. My surgery was more involved than I had hoped but it left me cancer-free. I’m not doing chemo. I have my hair. I live thirty minutes from the most hard-core cancer hospital in the world. A friend of a friend got me this spot in this room. I’ve got awesome health insurance. I’m going to be okay. I am incredibly lucky.
Some of you are already preparing to leave a chastising comment to this post . . . You’re wanting to tell me that I’m not lucky, that I’m blessed. I get it. I am blessed. But here’s my thinking: I assume (or at least I hope) that I might describe myself as blessed even if I were sitting in the waiting room with cancer in my body, with no hair, with a diagnosis that made my family cry. The fact that I’m not is, in my opinion, not related to the blessing of God but to something else, something less personal. Whatever that is, I’m calling it luck. 
And every morning, I feel overwhelmingly, pervasively lucky.

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