From a young age, I’ve had a biased toward overachieving. In third grade, I’d set my sights to attend Stanford, in sixth I was beyond thrilled to attend GATE (Gifted And Talented Education), and in subsequent years medaled twice at the Volleyball Junior Olympics. That is not to say I believe I’m exceptional – I’m not –rather, to illustrate that I set high expectations of myself. [In fact, I failed to get into Stanford and was cut from my Junior High Volleyball team]. Everything has always been a competition with my number one competitor: myself.
Last week, when my Endocrine surgeon told me two of the eight suspicious lymph nodes removed on March 31st were cancerous, I quickly sized-up myself. Two for eight equated to one-quarter cancer. Seventy-five of what was taken from me wasn’t infested with the malignancy pervading both my body and spirit. Seventy-five percent translates to a solid C. In other words: average. Not passing. Not failing. Just there.
As I enter into year six with disease, I can’t help but think this will be a recurring theme: not disease-free, nor cancer-ridden, simply present. It is a black mold -unseen and barely detectable, but omnipresent – chipping at the edges of my rose-colored world. It’s my duty create an exceptional personal outlook in a less-than-exceptional situation. At least by doing so I can control the status of my mental malignancy – a term I created referring to the degradation of your positive attitude while dealing with cancer. If I can maintain my mental malignancy tracking at and 90%, even though my body is telling me we’re at 75%, I’m confident I’ll be able to rid myself of this bastard eventually – but maybe that’s just my Santa-Cruz, Secret-loving, “if-you-believe-it-it-will-happen” side coming out.
On the whole, the surgery was my most pain-free yet. Is it sad that I can now am able to compare surgeries to each other? The consultant in me wants to create a cancer scorecard and regression analysis, but maybe I’ve just been working too much the past week. One solitary night in the hospital, five days at home, four bouquets, three-dozen cards, three new pieces of jewelry, two snuggly presents, one new drug allergy, one gardenia tree, and one giant box of titillating games probably sped up the recovery – well, aside from the drug allergy. Thanks to everyone for your support, kind words, emails, texts, phone calls, facebook updates, visits, and gifts.
Here’s to hoping the next round of tests is an A. Truthfully, I’m sick of being average.