The universe is trying to find my breaking point. I think it might be getting close… I must be living a “Truman Show” kind of life where the audiences see me being thrown obstacles big and small and seeing how I react: my MRI running an hour late and the longest amount of time in the tube I have ever spent (45 minutes). [Side note: Good call requesting Adele on my scratchy headphones – she has so many songs that she alone can cover the ridiculous amount of time I spend in the machine.] The following morning I head out to my “big news” oncology appointment and give 1.5 hours to go 13 miles from Seattle to Renton. However, there is an accident that closes I-5, so I exit and take the alternate route. Then a fender bender closes the ramp that I am already committed to trying to get back on the freeway South of the accident. We have all had those moments when each time you check maps, the minutes to your destination increases, not decreases. I arrive to the oncology appointment breathless and agitated (but Mom Torrens kept me sane by for talking me through the worst moments of the drive.)
Then you get the news where suddenly the traffic problems are no longer even a blip on life’s worries. The once “somewhat treatable, maybe 10-15 years, triple positive” metastatic breast cancer is now double negative… the final HER2 marker still unknown. We are no longer talking years… we could be talking months. Everything hangs on the HER2 marker, and regardless the double negative likely wipes away years of my life. Tim wipes away my tears in the car. The refrain of screaming “Fuck!!!! I don’t choose this!!!” repeats for about two minutes until I remember it will do no good other than letting my husband know how badly I want to fight this and reject it. Lunch in a local version of hooters where the wait staff wears leather and lace. You can’t make this shit up. I start making the next calls that will start my chemo, my radiation that will only ease pain but nothing will kill what is growing inside of me. The only thing radiated to oblivion will be the audacious plan I had recklessly hoped for myself: a new job in the sunshine with a progressive school district, a slower pace of life away from the I-5 corridor, three years spent away from my husband during the week but worth it for job satisfaction – besides, we have our whole lives in front of us….. Until we don’t. What do you do with that? How to put all the plans in reverse? What do you do now? What do I do? What do I do? What do I do? This question plays an endless loop and is answered by making the next appointment, hearing the next news, putting thoughts down on paper, picturing what makes me happy, trying to manipulate the shattered pieces of my life into some semblance of what we might recognize as a life. I am not being over dramatic, in fact some people think I am not being dramatic enough. But I am. On the inside. “What do I do?” my brain whispers until the myriad of pills that will help me sleep finally, finally stops the whisper. Every morning since the diagnosis, I wake and test my brain. Was it a bad dream? Every morning there is a similar answer, no, not a bad dream and the refrain begins again, “what do I do?” The audience watches in anticipation.