Things Change

Rebecca Quirk unicorn

Late last fall, I wrote about the faceless old lady who had vanished into the dust along with her house. The site is now a parking lot and she is gone without a trace.

Late last fall, I finally managed to do a yoga headstand on my own. I was rather pleased with myself.

A couple of days after that, I found a lump in my breast.

Fast forward six months. Countless doctor and hospital appointments and two major surgeries later, I am now a person living with cancer. My body and life are changed forever.

Other than knee surgery 25 years ago, I’d never had much to do with the medical world beyond being grateful not to need it. So this whole process has been a series of shocks. It sometimes feels like the doctors and nurses have a storage room full of old, mismatched boots and each time I go for an appointment they judiciously pick one, dust if off, and then lob it at my head. I don’t want to go into all of it here; the details are out there on websites and blogs written by cooler heads than mine. Suffice it to say that there’s a lot to learn, a lot to absorb, and between overwhelming shocks there is endless waiting, endless questions the doctors and nurses can’t answer, endless gnawing fear that must be mastered because I just can’t live that way. I remind myself daily that it is what it is; it will not go away and must be coped with.

I used to schedule my haircut appointments on Wednesday mornings, because that’s when the salon wasn’t busy. They’d give me a nice, long head massage when they washed my hair, then a hand massage, sometimes two people at once, while my favorite cutter did my hair. It was heavenly. But the salon changed owners and my favorite cutter got transferred to a spiffy salon in a spiffy neighborhood which is just a tad too spiff for me.

Wednesday mornings are now designated chemotherapy time at the doctor’s office. The people who work there are all terribly kind and understanding. There is genuine compassion in their eyes; they know I don’t want to be there. But even so it’s hard to walk through the door. The urge to turn and flee is strong. Instead of massaging my head and hands, they’re going to pump poison into my body. And I’m going to let them and try to be graceful about it. As a very wise friend said early on, “It’s your boob or your life. Pick one.” Seems an obvious choice.

Something I have learned is that you don’t really “treat” cancer. You don’t even fight it, really. You either cut it out or you kill it. It comes down to a primal animal instinct: kill or be killed. It’s as simple as that.

And so I step forward into the unknowable, shoulders squared and head held high. If I need to take a moment to sit down and rest, I know I have my family and my friends and my tribe and the Goddess and the unicorns, and they’re all on my side. You couldn’t ask for fiercer allies than that.

Lisa Edmonds unicorn

13 thoughts on “Things Change”

  1. Eda, I am so sorry to hear about this, I had no idea. I always think of you with great fondness and warmth and extremely positive. Stay strong and I am sending you a big hug from New York.

    1. Thanks, friend. During chemo the other day, I told my friend about your “Who you calling paranoid?” comment. It’s still as funny as it was that day, and comic relief is very welcome.

  2. Was not expecting that sort of heartbreaking tale from Tokyo. Stay strong, be well in mind and heart. Even a unicorn gets split ends in her flowing mane and an occasional chip in her gleaming horn, but she’s still a unicorn.

  3. Well, damn. That is not the explanation I was hoping for. I’m so sorry you got socked with this, and dearly hope that soon you’ll be past this and safely out the other side. I’m looking forward to the time when kitty antics and your droll view of everyday life in Japan are the most exciting things you have to write about here. Hope you get well soonest, dear Eda.

    1. Thanks, hon. And thanks for hoping for an explanation. That means a lot.

      I’ll get past this, and in the meantime will try to come up with some kitty antics.

  4. I’m still thinking of all the expletives I shared with you before, but I will spare you them again. Suffice it to say, I think this sucks. Want you to know I am thinking of you and sending you strength, patience and any serenity I might have. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do, even if it’s just to listen. ❤ ❤ ❤

    1. Thanks, hon. Don’t worry about the expletives. I hear them inside my head. Serenity is the word. And perspective. Yeah, it sucks, but it could be a whole lot worse. That thought gets me through a lot. Love you.

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