I have cancer because I was afraid to feel dismissed by arrogant doctors. Yep. That about sums it up.
I judge that I am about to possibly die and lose so much awesomeness in my life because I was afraid to take my weird looking mole to the doctor and have them tell me it was nothing and have them charge me $250 to be humiliated and told I m imagining things, I am making it up, there is nothing wrong with me. I see what I did. I know what I did. And now I am paying a very high price.
The story of my avoidance.
Four years ago I noticed that the pencil eraser sized mole on the side of my right heel seemed a little bigger. The edges were kind of jagged. Was it my imagination? Maybe. Let’s wait and see. I had just sold everything I owned, left my children, and driven 3000 miles to live with a man who I didn’t want to live with in a country where I felt unwelcome. That’s no time to deal with moles and doctors.
A year goes by. Man, that thing looks weird. It has definitely grown. Doctor? Nope. Not only do I not have insurance, but I do not have a lot of money.
Six months more go by. I have consulted every woo woo person I know. Is it cancer? Every day I ask myself what is this thing on my foot — now about an inch across, raised and perpetually wet and bleeding. I KNOW the answer. I hated going to the doctor but I finally did. I could hardly hide my smile of triumph when she called me with the diagnosis. Somehow, I deserved the surgery and the pain and the bills and the crutches and cane. I did this.
Doctors? Plague? They go hand in hand, yes?
Here’s a smattering:
Age 11. I broke my pinky finger. It was my fault, really. My brother and I were playing around. I didn’t get my hand out of the way fast enough. It’s broken, I wailed, in pain. No it isn’t, my parents said. You’ll be fine. They gave me an aspirin and made me a popsicle stick and adhesive tape splint to shut me up and I went to school and played the flute. Six weeks later my finger looked really weird. It looks weird, I said. Look. Ow. The parents were going to the doctor anyway and decided to take me along. Just to check it out. I could barely hide my smile when the x-ray came back, and I gritted my teeth in pleasure when the doctor grabbed my finger and re-broke it so it would heal again.
Age 16. I broke my foot. It’s broken, I said. No it isn’t, they said. If it isn’t, I will pay for the x-ray myself. Just take me, I said. We compromised and I hobbled around on crutches for 2 weeks.
Age 17. Depression. There is something wrong, I said. I need help. You’re fine, they said. There is nothing wrong with you. I guess they didn’t notice the black clothes I wore day after day, the 20 pounds I gained that year, that my room had turned into a scene from Hoarders, or that I had dropped all my classes so I could hide at my job.
Age 28. Panic attack. There is nothing wrong with you. Go home. Be less stressed.
Age 30. Chronic fatigue & fibromyalgia. We don’t know what is wrong with you. Are you sure you’re not depressed? Go home. Be less stressed.
Age 40. Chest pain after my son was born with Down syndrome. Ow.. There is nothing wrong with you. Go home. My heart broke, I said. But there is nothing wrong with you. Go home.
I gave up and kept my mouth shut. It is no excuse, I know. I could have kept speaking out for what I knew was true. But I wanted to avoid feeling judged and dismissed. I wanted to not feel bad.
What’s the big deal? Everybody feels dismissed sometimes.
I know, right? What is the big deal? I know we all run into arrogant asshats and dickwads sometimes who don’t listen, don’t “get” us, don’t see us for the beautiful magical beings that we are, and instead project their own wounded mommy-didn’t-love-me-waaah selves all over us and cover up with a sneering facade of facts and figures. I let my desire to be liked and petted and not sneered at be more important than my life.
Chew on that one.
(What are you making more important than your life?)
So while I have shame and all about how I let some stupid bullies put me in a fear place where I didn’t stick up for what I knew was true about myself —OH MY GOD THIS THING ON MY FOOT IS CANCER I KNOW IT IS CANCER — it is still not the biggest thing going on right now.
I said I healed this. I lied.
I’ll be honest with you, I think I knew this cancer thing wasn’t over in 2010 even though I said it was and have said so ever since. I feel ashamed to tell you this now. I knew it wasn’t gone. I wanted it gone. But I didn’t want to face the consequences — doctors dismissing me, bills I can’t pay, potential Really Bad Stuff like Dying…
I fucked up. I am so sorry. Mostly I am sorry for my soulmate. As awesome as he is — and this man is golden, the love of my life, and the most amazing man I have ever known — he should not be cheated now out of a life with the woman he loves. I did this to him. I am so, so sorry. I cannot take this back.
And I am also sorry that I made being all awesome and OH LOOK SHE HEALED HERSELF OF CANCER, YAY more important that my life.
I ask you again: what are you making more important than your life?
I might be asking that question because this is raw. I am being completely open and vulnerable here, and you have every right to judge me. And I think you will judge me — after all, I judge myself, who wouldn’t judge me for this? — so I am deflecting the question back onto you.
Plus also: who does that? I mean, anyone in their right mind, when you ask the question What is more important than your life, would answer Nothing. Nothing is more important. Duh.
If I was really honest I would say that I have made a lot of things more important than my life.
All I can do is pick up from here, say I fucked up and I’m sorry, and move on. Get on with the business of living. Instead of the business of making things more important than living. I’m on it. You watch.
P.S. Please don’t tell me not to be so hard on myself. I get to be hard on myself. I get to be ruthless and scathingly honest. That’s my right, don’t take it away. If I am hard on myself and then acknowledge I am being hard on myself (I could die here, I think that’s a good reason for deep internal self inquiry, yanno?), then I can let it go and move on. That’s what I am doing. Nyah.