As we leave the surgeon’s office, he promises to get 5 other opinions from colleagues and he hands me a folder containing Kaiser’s prepared flyers about cancer.

I am home alone when two of the opinions arrive via the Kaiser web mail program:

1. Don’t mess around with papillary serous . . . .
2. Yes, I agree with the protocol you have selected.

The other 3 opinions are missing. This seems ominous to me. Are they so dire that my surgeon decided not to forward them on to me? I have another irrational bout of weeping.

Irrational Weeping

When I calm down, I open the Kaiser Cancer handout.

Patients respond differently when they discover they have cancer . . . Many feel the need to cry. It is natural and healthy to cry.

I imagine other people who find themselves home alone, or driving across a bridge, or changing a diaper, or trading hi-yield bonds, or humming Yellow Submarine, or eating a spoonful of chocolate ice cream; suddenly it hits them, “I have cancer.” We cannot help ourselves. We cry.

Preparation for surgery requires an EKG, a chest X-Ray, a CT-scan, blood work. Almost everyday I go in for another test, fasting for one and drinking some horrible white concoction for another. This is supposed to taste like banana, but tastes cloyingly sweet like liquid bubble gum.


I am lying down on a palette, about to go through the doughnut hole of the CT scanner. I have an IV in my arm and the nurse is administering some dye into my veins. “You will have a sensation of going to the bathroom – don’t worry, you won’t be.”

“Going to the bathroom.” What does she mean? Urinating? Making a bowel movement? I do not feel the fluid entering my veins. The scanner whirs and beeps and its internal ring spins. It directs me as the palette moves forward, “Hold your breath . . . . . Breathe,” as it retreats. Everything slows down. I feel immersed in peace and acceptance. I relinquish myself to my cancer, to this test, to the EKG, the chest X-ray, the imminent surgery. By directing my breath, the scanner has induced Shavasana, the corpse pose, the pose of stilling the body, the senses, the mind, the spirit. For the first time since the diagnosis, my chi settles. The need to turn myself inside out, to get rid of the errant cells no longer propels me. I have a sense that I may even be ready to die, that until that moment, I will heighten my awareness of every experience whether it is having needles inserted into veins, shaving my head to anticipate hair loss from chemotherapy or eating a favorite food. I am sure that I am approaching Nirvana when a sensation that is both moist and dry, warm and tingling spreads through my pelvis.

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Cancer Frog Blog by Judith Ogus is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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