Today’s submission is from a 21 year old woman who is a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Survivor. I love this piece because it resonates so much with my own experience of the worry of illness reoccurrence. If you connect to this piece, considering adding a comment.
She turned her head and felt a strange feeling, as if her throat and muscles had crossed an illegal border. She placed her fingers quickly, regretting the speed with which she had done it, incase anyone had noticed. She had always been bad at hiding her emotions; her eyebrows had descended at the fearful corners, as if making a teepee on her forehead. Her fingers felt everything slip back into place, and her mind felt the dreaded scene repeat in her head once again, a nightmare that was interrupting her daydreams, now a terrible breed of day-mare.
“Ma, does my neck look weird to you?” She called out from the dining room, while she prodded it, staring into the oversized mirror, which had been placed in an attempt to make the room appear larger.
“Hang on! Let me see…” her mother, Patty, responded in her most-motherly tone. Patty was a strong, independent, farm-girl kind of woman. She grew up in the suburbs and married the man who knocked her up, insisting she wanted a farm. Dozens of sheep, chickens, goats, dogs, barn cats, and three kids later, she had decided she wanted a divorce from the too-nice man that was Amy’s father. Years later, Amy was living at home after 3 semesters at a prestigious (and sometimes pretentious) university, because of “health issues” which were yet to be apparent in their extremity.
“Well, it does seem larger than the other side… Hmm, let me call the surgeon and see what they say. It could be an aftereffect of all the painkillers. Anti-inflammatory or something…” Patty asked a few questions about pain, if it was anywhere else, the standard medical procedure. Her years as a veterinarian’s assistant made her appreciate that her human patients could speak a language she understood. She always had an abundant amount of questions ready.
Sonograms, CT scans, doctors appointments later, it was decided it was the cancer everyone refused to consider as an option.
10 months, 8 chemotherapy sessions, too many doctors’ appointments, and one stated remission later, Amy felt the same strange crossing of muscles and throat, and panic struck again. Her hand flung to her neck, as if star-crossed lovers after years apart (the autobiographer acknowledges the sick use of irony here), but her heart sunk. Amy went home to wait for her roommate to get a second opinion. Studying herself in the mirror, is this her being paranoid? Is it the lighting? Swollen glands? To wait.