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The "C" word

"This too shall pass." That's what I tell myself when bad things happen, but I'm not a convincing optimist. You can tell they're just words I say out of reflex -- the way I sing the Serenity Prayer in rush-hour traffic to extinguish my thoughts of vehicular homicide -- they're just words.

I'm a cynic, and it's normally something I'm proud of. Jaded people are edgy and unpredictable. They're the fact finders, because it's in their nature to question and doubt all things -- to expect the worst always. I regard optimists like high school cheerleaders -- obnoxiously cheerful and sugar coated -- until now.

The dark side hasn't felt nearly as sophisticated since a surgeon dug into my husband's back on Wednesday and yanked out a baseball-sized tumor that may or may not be malignant.

It wasn't supposed to be anything -- just a lipoma, a benign growth of fat cells as harmless as a cyst or a giant pimple. In fact the doctor told Jerod, "It's nothing to worry about." She only recommended surgery, because the lump was so close to his spine it might have caused problems if it grew any larger.

"Woo hoo!" Jerod cheered. "It's not cancer."

"Well," the doctor said in a cautious tone. "You do have several spots on your back that are worrisome."

So the lump was the "good news."

Then Jerod's surgeon got a look at it and decided he wasn't comfortable calling it a lipoma. "The mass" was too large, and it was spreading into the surrounding muscle tissue; lipomas don't have arms. The surgeon didn't indicate whether Jerod should worry or not. The mass was shipped off to pathology, and someone will call us eventually -- "You'd typically hear within four business days, but this is the worst time of year, because everyone's gone on vacation."

In addition to the lump that should have been nothing, Jerod had 23 moles and skin tags removed. Those looked bad from the start, so we're all the more anxious for that news. 

Suddenly for the first time since I was 8 years old, I wish I was a cheerleader. The last thing any person perhaps facing cancer needs is a cynic throwing her arms in the air screaming "Oh my God." Not that I would EVER do that, but I've wanted to several times. There's a nice spot across the plaza from my office where I hide periodically to flush out my bad thoughts -- pull my hair and grit my teeth and swear at God.

Jerod can pass himself off now as one of Dick Cheney's unfortunate hunting partners -- he's got buck-shot-sized divets on his back and in his armpits. We laugh and make stupid comments like "You would come down with cancer to get yourself out of the dog house." They get us through the quiet spells but not through the waiting. Nothing except knowing -- good or bad -- will make that giant question mark appear less gloomy.

I wish I was a cheerleader. 


  1. Please let Lori and I know what the results show. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family. Al Everett

    1. Thanks Al -- you're one of my favorite peeps! You always will be!

    2. Someone has to take care of your Dad

  2. Oh no, Alexis. I'm sorry to hear you guys are going through this. Sending thoughts/prayers your way.

    Big hugs,

  3. Love you all and am praying my hardest!!!

  4. Praying that all turns out well.


  5. Your husband is more handsome than you let on, Alexis.


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