Part II |
Funny Girl X The one where the “Big C” upgraded my life
…. continued from part I https://wp.me/p7RKBD-1th
“How poetic…” I cynically thought to myself ; as the artist in me was eagerly waiting to come out.
I had spent the last years studying accounting and finance and yet I was remotely interested in it, yet I had no idea what I wanted to do in my life. I very much knew two things though; I always felt like I didn’t belong there, every time I attended my university’s amphitheater and I was always interested in reading biographies and inspirational stories, especially of survivor’s.
As we finished our walk at the hospital’s hall, I thanked my doctor and promised I would stay for the operation, as I’ve already had another unsuccessful surgery exactly two weeks ago and when he announced that it was essential to undergo another one, I was starting to rebel out and yell at my parents, at the doctors of the council and at the stuff of the hospital that looked stunned at me, threatening that I wasn’t go through with it, and that I would return home, as the last surgery proved, during which they opened me up only to confirm I was a hopeless case, that the doctors had no idea what they were doing.
It was my pain, that was humbling enough to make me stay. I have always been the strong one, the mother goose that everyone turned to; I had took on other roles too; I was the wildcard, the unpredictable, the anti-conformist, the one that didn’t tick in to boxes; the funny girl that always had a good joke under her sleeve to relieve everyone that felt uncomfortable in the room, as if this was my obligation, as if this was an assignment given to me at my birth. And I was treated as such; if everyone came to me during their tough times or to have a good laugh, were would I turn to while battling cancer? I was certainly running a few jokes short, and I was really not in the mood to build anyone up. People were starting to get disappointed at me, and friends were starting to run away from me, as if I was a bad movie and saddened, they wanted their money back.
“ What happened to you, you used to be so independent!” , were the exact words of one of my so called friends that I asked for her help, or to drive me safe back home after doing my first chemotherapy. “ Well, I guess I’m not anymore, am I?” I stormed out, and hung up on her. I was soon to be twenty four years old, and yet what did I really have to be proud of ? I wasn’t pleased with my studies, I certainly didn’t have a boyfriend or friends to rely on anymore, and I never did , to be honest, and all I kept thinking was about what would I decide to do with my life post-surgery.
As I was heading back to my chamber for my preparation for the next day’s big happening, I couldn’t help but think about the other patients near me. Who were they, what would happen to them after they were operated, what would they do with their life after they were released from the hospital, why did cancer chose surface in the specific part of their body and did that have a special meaning to them, I wondered. I knew it did for me. And if I wanted to be honest with myself, I was somehow always expecting something like this to happen, as I was always afraid to become a mother; a good mother to be precise. This was a thought I never acted upon and never cared to discuss with anyone, as it was something that made my family feel uncomfortable and responsible at the same time. But if cancer taught me something was definitely to speak up, because if you suppress your soul it will eventually invade your body or your mind, in a form of bodily or spiritual cancer.
Cancer became like a big sister to me, that made me take off my mask and start being myself and loving myself for who I was, not for what was popular and comfortable to the others. It was as if I was suddenly realizing that I was living a monopoly life – I was too afraid to make anyone unhappy, I was too scared to be vulnerable, I was frightened to ask for advice and affection, I was too shocked to realize I wasn’t invincible.
The next day came, and I was no less in the mood for celebrating. I woke up after my hysterectomy surgery in excruciating pain, praying to faint so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the unbearable pain; I felt as if an arm or a leg had been ripped apart from me and the wound was open for anyone to scratch rather than heal. After holding the icon of the Mother of God, Most Holy Mary, I kept praying and screaming in pain, asking Her to help me pass out into sleep. When I finally woke up, after many hours of sleep and multiple doses of painkillers, I opened my eyes and I realized I had just woken up to my new reality. I was turning 24 years old and I was lying in a hospital bed, maximum drugged and yet the pain had just started to fade away. I looked over my shoulder , to the old rusty window as if I was searching for the pair of sparrows. I couldn’t see them around, yet I am pretty sure I could hear them singing to me, a sign of hope and belief. I asked my mother to hand me over my cell phone; as if what I had been through wasn’t enough, overestimating myself for one more time, mortally proud, I wanted to see how many of my friends “had showed up” to wish me happy birthday with a missed call or even a message. And they didn’t disappoint.
The night before the surgery, I should be hoping for an early sleep to gain more strength for the following day, but my mind couldn’t stop running. I started running through my phone contacts and decluttering my acquaintances, that were mistakenly put there as friends. After I did that, I chose only two of my contacts to send a brief message. One of them was as follows :
“ Hey mariposa, I know it’s 3 am and you are probably sleeping, which is best for me, as I wouldn’t want you to answer to this message, other than keep it in your pocket for a rainy day when you’ ll probably miss me… I know everyone says I’m strong and that I’m really gonna make it through this battle that’s coming up, but you and I both know they only say so that I will immediately feel better, hang up the phone and untangle them of any obligation to comfort me. I’m telling you this cause you are of the only few people who know me for who I am and love me in spite of me. You and I both know there’s a pretty good chance that I won’t make it tomorrow and I won’t hear you sing me ‘ happy birthday ’ ; I feel there’s a serious possibility the next time I see you will be on the other side. I want you to know how much I love you and I admire you for having the strength to love me during my tantrums when I need you the most. I don’t know if this message holds any legal argument, but if I go to the other side of the road, I’m leaving all of my cd’s to you, as a legacy to your future daughter. That is some kind of will, isn’t it? Ok, I’m officially through being funny , I ‘ ll just leave that up to you! I have loved you ”
As the matter of pain was less troubling, and the first tests had me officially clear of “the Big C” , the doctor took me privately in his office to reveal the truth about my situation to me and to give me some instructions for my home rest. Without really intending to, I took his turn and started talking about my thoughts on the surgery.
“ You know , what I feel is the strangest thing.” I said.
“ I feel as if something right was being put back into place and I feel safe…”
I managed to structure a sentence that made that much sense, half drugged, still.
He smiled at me, obviously relieved yet worried about how he was about to deliver the news to me. I was not going to pretend to be “the funny girl” anymore; I was in too much pain for that and it usually took up all of my strength to do so, to the point it felt exhausting. I was not going to carry other people’s burdens on my shoulder, may that be small or bigger. I have always loved humor and being funny, but the way I treated it cause me to fall out of love with it.
“ I believe it was more than just a difficult placed cyst, am I right?” I managed to whisper.
“ You were too exhausted from the previous operation and reluctant to get under the knife for the second time in under two weeks, which is totally understandable, yet the time was not on our side. My first concern was get you to agree to do the operation as sooner as possible. It took me eight and a half hours to take it all out of your body and to make sure it wouldn’t spread anywhere else. If only you wasted three more days rebelling and refusing to get well, there would be no operation to fight for. So, basically I didn’t tell you how bad it was because you were ready to give up and go in dignity, you were showing signs that you didn’t love yourself enough to get in the ring and fight a good fight for your life…” he said frustrated, yet relieved that he finally addressed the truth.
“ I understand and I am grateful to God for giving my stubborn head a second chance and to you for what you did for me, that saved my life…” I said barely moving from the remains of pain and smiling. He smiled back, happy that I came to myself.
“ Now, I wanna talk about a few options, not about painkillers and some patches that will help you with the rushes, the nurse will make sure you get everything right. You have to go under some chemotherapy treatment, just for preventative reasons. Do you understand that your hair is going to fall off ?” he gently asked.
“ No , it’s not!” my former stubbornness would respond.
“ I understand doctor. That will only be for a while, right?” I politely replied.
“ That is correct, it is only temporarily. It will even grow stronger.” He added, trying too much as I once did to others, to make me feel better.
“ Well , I am not wearing a wig!” I almost yelled at him.
He looked unsure, as if he was wondering if I understood correctly.
“ I don’t want to lie anymore, I have been lying all my life!”
I backed myself up.
“ I want people to actually know I am sick, I don’t want to hide one more minute.” I responded, looking at him directly.
“ I suspect you don’t understand what it really means to me doctor, but it means a lot… don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing off with wearing a wig, it’s just I feel I finally have the chance to be myself…” I said apologetically.
“Alright Miss, point taken!” he replied calmly.
“ So what are you going to do with your life, now that you are soon going to feel better?” the doctor asked, while showing me the way out of his office.
“ I think it’s about time to come out!” I said and meant it to be funny.
He looked at me puzzled.
“ I think it’s time to come out as an artist!” I replied.
He smiled and fuzzed my hair.
“ Yeah, I’m gonna do that !” I added. “ I’m gonna try dancing, and creative writing, lyrics sound great too, and oh, I’ve heard about some free music therapy lessons for cancer patients that help them gain back their confidence, and I’ve always wanted to travel and live on my own …”
We both effortlessly smiled at each other while exiting the hospital.