Sitting at the computer reading and drinking coffee this morning, my phone rang at 9:30.

Woman on the other end:  “Good morning. Is this a good time? ”

Me gut-punched, recognizing the caller ID:  “I guess.”

I knew why she was calling.

“We have the results of your biopsy from Monday.  Poorly differentiated carcinoma.**  Thoracic will be calling you to set up an appointment.”

Me shaking: “Thank you for calling.”

What an awful job this poor woman has.

I can’t breathe.

I hung up the phone, grabbed my keys and left the house.

Driving down a familiar street, I saw a woman playing Frisbee with her dog in their front yard. Joyous and free, running leaping into the air.  I am reminded of the Mary Oliver poem about the joy of dogs without leashes.

At yoga class, we did lots of open-up-the-chest-and-rib-spaces movements. I swear every time the instructor said,  “Breathe in, open up the lobes of the lungs,” my poorly differentiated carcinoma lit up like ET’s heartlight, eager, defiant, and ready to differentiate itself.  But I worried that by breathing so deeply was I providing nourishment so the little bastard could get bigger and stronger?

In the white space between the lines of this post is a storm.  Can you feel it?   Probably not.  It is huge and dark – a violent, roiling, churning monster waiting to take me under.   I am alone and frightened in the vast, deep water.   But I am an excellent swimmer.  I will ride out the waves and swim where I can, as long as I can, until I am too tired to go on.

I will pick up my grandson from school, we will have a snack of Newman’s Own Cookies and play ‘Mater and Lightning McQueen with his Cars play set.  I get to be ‘Mater.  I love being ‘Mater.

I will breathe. I promise.

** poorly differentiated carcinoma

Two Things

  • every single one of Mary Oliver’s poems
  • birthday cakes with white icing

19 thoughts on “Storm

  1. I’ve been there. It’s a roller coaster from start to finish. For me at 12 years out, I don’t feel finished although I’ve been clear for years. One good thing is that the treatment has improved substantially. More options and more humane (if I can say that). I wish you the best on your journey and keep us posted..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kate. That means so much. I was reluctant to write this post, but I’m glad I did. I hope we can email and you’ll share your journey with me, as much as you’re willing.


      1. Consider reading the cancer series from the blogsite Ruth Pennepacker did several stories on her experiences that I wish I had read when I was going through it. Ruth is a humorous author but her personal stories were touching.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am moved to tears at your apt description of yoga and feeling as if you’re nurturing the CANCER. I have to stop and think, and then I remember, I have lung cancer. And I think of “Alien” with Sigourney Weaver…I’m harboring a MONSTER!!! And I don’t know if it will consume me or destroy me…
    Your poem was beautiful, lyrical, and heartbreaking . You give me strength 🙏🏼. We can beat CANCER!!

    Liked by 1 person

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