Exactly one year ago I went in for a colonoscopy. That morning I had heard the news about Farrah Fawcett’s death from anal cancer. I’d been having some bleeding episodes, which was one of the reasons I was having a colonoscopy. While being prepped for the procedure, I nervously mentioned Farrah Fawcett to the doctor. He briefly told me that anal cancer was something quite different from colon cancer – that it was more like a skin cancer. He smiled and assured me I didn’t have it.
Next, I was in a small, curtained cubicle, still drowsy and recovering from the procedure when the doctor came in – no longer smiling. He told me they’d discovered a “villous adenoma” tumor in my rectum. He said he didn’t know if it was cancerous, but he believed if it wasn’t already malignant it would be soon. I was advised to see a surgeon…
Fast-forward to yesterday. I took my mother to the same Endoscopy Center for her colonoscopy. As they prepped her for the procedure, I looked around and realized I was in the exact same room where a year ago I’d been given the news about my tumor. It was rather surreal to stand there as they were taking Mom’s vital signs and inserting an I.V., all the while my mind was going back over all that has taken place since I was there last.
As they wheeled Mom away, I felt a little dizzy. I went back out to the waiting room and tried to read. Forty-five minutes later they called me back to the recovery area where Mom was just waking up. The doctor came to tell her that everything looked good, she’d had only a few tiny polyps, they didn’t expect anything other than a good report from pathology…Of course I sat there listening and was grateful for her results, yet I couldn’t help but also entertain a vivid memory of a very different discussion a year ago. Being in that little curtained cubicle again brought up a lot of unexpected emotions for me.
I got Mom home and settled. We had a small meal together and, when I felt sure she’d be okay alone, I left to drive home. It was raining. We’ve been waiting weeks for it to rain here, so it might have been a joyful moment. But I found myself feeling strangely sad.
Over the next few weeks I’ll have a series of “anniversaries” (the biopsy, being diagnosed, starting chemo and radiation…). I’m so truly grateful to be in good health again – really I am – and yet I’m wondering how best to navigate this season of “a year ago this” and “a year ago that.” I want to acknowledge and honor what I’ve been through, but I don’t need to wallow in it either. I think my experience yesterday at the Endoscopy Center was a small reminder: although I’m very happy to be alive and well, there’s still some emotional terrain ahead.
So you won’t think I’m spending all my time wallowing in the past, here are some pics of my recent exploits at the local arts and crafts markets. My booth was sure busy on Sunday at the Artisan’s Market.