This thing taunts me. I feel physically well. In fact, this morning I woke up and put on makeup (tinted moisturizer and mascara on the top lashes, because cancer makeup hacks) and took myself out to buy some slippers for the hospital. My body feels as normal as ever. I haven’t been pricked or probed since last Friday, and there haven’t been any symptoms for over a week. Aside from my continuously sore (but getting better) arm, I would have no reason to suspect that anything is wrong. But, like an abusive boyfriend, this thing has bruised my emotions, and I remain under its control at any moment of the day. It’s insidious. It haunts me.
I am still largely positive. I worked all week and felt a semblance of normalcy, but today I felt the weight of everything settle back in around me, anchored by the anxiety of what is coming this week. I find myself questioning everything. I question whether I actually feel as well as I think I do. Is it possible that I settled into being unwell, and this actually isn’t how healthy is supposed to feel, at all? Or maybe I really do feel fine. Maybe this is healthy. But if that is the case, then this thing is just existing quietly inside of me, having attempted to remain largely unnoticed.
I liken this beast to a spider in the far corner of the attic. Its web is small at first, and so is it. Silently, it creates a home within your home. It stays out of your way and keeps to itself, so there’s no reason to go looking for it. But as time goes on, its web grows. So does it. It feeds on anything it can find, growing its empire, laying its eggs, until, by the time it’s discovered, it is large enough to open its jaws and feed on you.
My son has loved superheroes since he could crawl. Hulk is his favorite, though Groot is quickly building steam in the world of who is the strongest. “He’s a tree! Isn’t that cool, Momma?” When we met with the oncologist last week and discussed what was happening, she explained that this tumor is a villous adenoma. Villous Adenoma. Suddenly it was as if my mind was overtaken by my four-year-old, and I imagined a villain, strong and stealthy: Villous Adenoma. What weapons did she have at her disposal? And what superpowers did I have to defeat her?
The lack of pain, the now-lack of blood, the lack of any discernible sign that I am sick leaves me feeling like there is constantly a shadow lurking near me, unconnected to anything but powerful in its own right. I feel like a kid again, afraid to dangle my toes over the edge of the bed because the monster beneath it might take a bite. Only, there is a monster. And it isn’t confined to night. And it already had its first meal.
I am strong, physically and mentally, but this is a challenge the likes of which I was not expecting. But in the midst of everything I have reconnected with a fellow warrior, and she is training me for what is to come. She has already been victorious against this rogue cell, and when the shadow gets close and my strength weakens, she is there.
So here we are. I’ve stumbled into the Colon Cancer Universe, and this villain knows far more than I do about what’s in store for the upcoming battle. It has the upper hand, at present, and it takes its swings and its blows to knock me down. But I am preparing, and I am not alone.