I didn’t let anyone down today. Not even myself!
I moved the car for street cleaning and didn’t even curse when I got stuck in traffic while doing so.
I then rushed home and got my bike and met my friend A. in the park for a ride. This is the same friend A. who drove us to the cancer center a year and a half ago, when I was in the midst of my wonder drug-induced colitis, so it was extra special to meet up with her on a much healthier plane. She wanted to check on a nest of cygnets, but they didn’t appear to have hatched yet. The geese and swans were having a turf war.
I came home, making sure to eat lunch and drink lots of seltzer immediately to prevent a migraine, because I rode a lot more yesterday, and went to bed with a brutal migraine. (It turns out seltzer isn’t the best possible option, though.)
I finished up preparing a presentation for Young J’s class, and I headed out to give it. It has been a year since I taught a class, and I have never taught this demographic, but it went very well. I wondered if I’d be nervous, but why would you get nervous in front of 9-12 year olds, some of whom you’ve known since preschool or kindergarten? I had fun. I made them laugh a little, and I taught them how to evaluate the results of their Web searches in order to make sure they are getting good, reliable information. It’s the sort of thing a school librarian would teach, but the school doesn’t have one yet. (One can hope…)
I finished up my talk, came home, started a pot of chili, and got back to school in time to pick up Young J (Young A had after school today). I was hitting all of my marks today!
Later on, while we ate dinner, out of nowhere, Young A asked where the rash on my back came from. “My scar, you mean?” Yes, he meant my scar. Young A is six. I was first diagnosed with melanoma when he was three. Ancient history for him – of course he doesn’t remember.
I started at the beginning. Surgery, radiation, recovery. Young A sat quietly and listened to every word. Young J, who has probably heard enough, tried interrupting by singing “Radioactive,” a song he likes by a group whose name refuses to stay in my brain. But for once, Young A wasn’t taking the bait. He was determined to listen. I kept going. I talked about being okay for a little more than a year, and then not being okay, and how the medicine made me very sick, and I couldn’t take it all, but how even so I got better! But then they found the bad stuff in my brain, and that’s why I am still taking the pink pills and why I had surgery in the special machine that was like a tunnel.
It doesn’t matter how many times I tell this story, it still sounds improbable and outlandish and Alice-in-Wonderlandish and space age. I wish everyone got to tell it the same way, got to experience the wonder and the hope that drove out the pain and the fear.
Then the kids asked how you get cancer. My own cancer is easy enough to trace the origin of, and it makes a damn good case for sunblock and hats on the young’uns (who have always been very good about these things). And smoking is easy to implicate in lung cancer.
But there are so many reasons and so many cancers and at a certain point, you might let Joe Jackson take over, because you can dance to it at least.