Thoughts & Inconsiderations
Several years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer, and everything seemed fine. I was early-stage, doctors offered solutions like butterscotch squares in candy dishes, and since I had just gotten married, anything unhappy was simply impossible. Eventually, a surgeon with a name that reflected her practice opened up my front in an operating theater, wiped the boundaries of my malignancy clean, and sent my excavated tissue off for further testing. Those tests, it turned out, indicated a slightly later stage, a weirdly aggressive type of cancer, and people in white coats knitted their brows while studying my data set. It was not the type of expression you wanted to see when confronted with what felt like a near-death experience. Everything will be fine became an afterthought, not a promise. Still, everyone plowed ahead -- the cheery dogs, the determined husband, the idiot patient -- and off we went through the field of the medical industrial complex. A head of hair was shed in cascades that clogged drains, a portacath was inserted into my chest, and over the course of a year I was radiated, chemotherapied, and targeted therapied. Nearly a year and a half after the whole thing started, I was finished. Left to my own devices, I was told to live my life. From the San Francisco fog that shrouded by cerebellum, I nodded grimly and waited for the next part of my life to begin. Eventually, of course, it did. My hair grew back, the black hole that had developed where the port once resided closed itself, and I told myself that things would get better. Time ticked across clock faces. One day, I got on a horse and galloped through a sandy arena to leap over a fence, which I had not done since I was younger. Still, something was gnawing, and in order to address those tiny teeth, I got on a plane and flew to Los Angeles last week. What are you doing here? my friends asked politely. I was working on a story, I told them. I was looking for something, I told myself. I explained to one friend that I was worried the cancer would return, the notion of which she laughed at hysterically. Now that I'm home, I'm prone to look back on what drove me to return to what I'd thought I'd done already. I think the answer is this: I wanted my balls back, or, failing that, I wanted to grow another pair.