My Cancer Week

As some of you may know, a few weeks ago, I had bladder surgery. Everything went okay, but while operating, my doctor spotted a tiny mark on my bladder. Like, teeny tiny. Less than half the size of my pinky nail. It was a spot rather than a lesion. Still, she wanted to check it out, and it was so small that when she tried to biopsy it, she just took the whole thing.

It looked like nothing, but it was cancer. Malignant, angry, fuck-off cancer.

If left to its own devices, it might have killed me. Bladder cancer is sneaky. Doctors often don’t spot it until it’s already well on its way to killing you. And they usually spot it because of blood in the urine. But I have kidney stones, so that wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow for me, let alone a red flag.

Like the grandpa in “The Princess Bride”, I feel like I should tell you that I don’t get eaten by the eels at this point. I’m okay. They checked the rest of me, and I’m cancer-free. To help us both calm down, here’s a chicken that looks like it’s wearing pants that it made itself:

So, now that we’re breathing, they checked the rest of me for cancer but found none. And now I will get regular checks on my bladder for the rest of my life. But for a week or so, I had cancer. I didn’t tell anyone but my family. I’m sorry if anyone’s feelings are hurt because I didn’t include them. It doesn’t mean we’re not close. I felt like if I said it too loudly, it would come back.

My fears don’t really listen to me when I tell them they’re ridiculous. Maybe someday, they’ll learn.

I know this is some heavy shit. To help you catch your breath again, here’s my dog Polly in a Wonder Woman cape:

Got your wind back? Okay.

I’ve had lots of thoughts since my cancer week. There were a couple agonizing waiting periods between tests. There have been lots of feelings. Do I feel lucky? Yes. Extremely. Was I scared? More than a little. But having a chronic pain condition already prepared me a bit. I didn’t have to go from zero to cancer. I was already “sick.” A very irrational part of me was happy. Why? Because the part of me that’s always looking for a reason behind my various illnesses thought, “Great! Cancer is probably the cause behind my RA, my anxiety, and my PCOS. And when they get rid of that, all those other problems will go away!” I also fantasized that I wasn’t really overweight but had a fifty pound tumor, and when they removed it, I would have the body of my dreams…

Like I said, irrational.

Did the whole experience change me? I still haven’t decided. Living every day like my last isn’t really possible, not when it’s not actually the last. I mean, the dishes still have to get done. I did decide that if I didn’t have much time left, I would spend quite a bit of it writing because I have so much more I want to say. And if I don’t finish the Godfall series before I die, several people have threatened to come after me in the afterlife, sort of like a reverse haunting. No one wants that.

Time for another pic. Here’s my mom’s cat being zen:

Ah, so soothing.

I am happy I don’t have to go through cancer treatments. Not yet, at least. Hopefully never. I am happy that I get to live more, to write more, to love and be loved more.

I had cancer for a week. Does that make me a survivor? I think I always was one, just not in a cancer-y way. That feels important to say.

Also important: I’m going to see Wonder Woman tomorrow night.

What are you looking forward to?

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20 thoughts on “My Cancer Week

  1. Wow, Barbra. Sounds like an ordeal. However, being a cancer survivor, I absolutely understand that whole thought process. The great thing is you do have a different perspective. And I actually remember thinking, well at least I’ll lose weight! And because of the medication/steroids..I gained weight.
    Things will be brighter!

  2. Yo. I’m glad things are on the up and up for you in the big “c” department. I had a malignant bladder tumor a few years ago too- and I turned out just fine! Well, I’m super gay and I love unicorns and rainbows. But otherwise, totally normal-ish ๐Ÿ˜‰ Glad you are well. Let’s compare bladder scars at the next BSB event.

  3. You kicked that bladder cancer in the covfefe! I wish you many more amazing chapters in your life. If you try to break up with us, you will be dragged back firmly and gently. Kicking and screaming are optional.

  4. I am familiar with all your worries and thoughts. Cancer invaded my and my family almost 6 years ago. Two of us survived and others did not. I hate it. So happy for you.

  5. My dear Barbara, I’m so sorry you had to go through this, and so happy you are well! I feel you. The part you wrote about your feeling like you were weirdly happy to KNOW what was causing your problems… I get that. I have that myself. I’m always latching onto a diagnosis really hard hoping that this, finally, is the actual reason behind being ill and now it will finally get fixed. After all, until we know what’s causing our pain, how can we really hope to be cured? So knowing is important. And even being told “you have this awful disease” feels better in some ways than “We have no idea what’s wrong with you and thus can’t even hope to attempt to fix it.”

    I guess, all I mean to say is, I feel you on that and I am glad you’re going to keep drawing air. And writing.
    I need to catch up on your books (next on my TBR after I finish the Mistborn series, but I’m on book three now, so almost done!) but you remain one of my top 5 favorite authors, and I’ll always support you. Plus you’ve been a big inspiration to me as an author myself, and remain one of the reasons I started writing.

    <3's to you girl. And thanks for the calm-down pictures. They really helped. And the Princess Bride ref. That really made me smile.

  6. Cool cat pic – and the others too. ๐Ÿ˜€

    So glad to hear you kicked cancer’s butt, and yep, you’re a survivor. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Been down that road (thyroid cancer) and no-one, however close to us, who hasn’t walked it, might have all the understanding in the world, but they won’t ‘get’ it.

    Funny how things work out – mine was found when I had an x-ray for a sore shoulder.

  7. Strangely enough, I think you must be the luckiest person I’ve ever met. Seriously. You go in for one thing and you snap kick cancer on the ride out. Well done, you.

    It’s scary, and hard, and totally unfair, but ya done good. Polly is going to have to share that cape with you. Glad you’re home and on the mend.

  8. I’m glad that you were able to get one unexpected issue addressed while getting another taken care of. You have a lot going on in your life.

    Like your post, keep taking your breathers to enjoy the time you have (which I hope is a WHOLE lot). And enjoy it to your fullest ability, even while washing the dishes.

    Having those pics as breathers throughout the post was nice.

    Having your dog in a Wonder Woman cape is freaking AWESOME!!

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