Just the other day I wrote about when you have cancer, you quickly learn cancer stories are everywhere. This morning when I sat down at the breakfast table with my coffee and smoothie, E said rather emphatically that shouldn't read this week's Modern Love essay. I told him I had seen a tweet that advised not to read it unless you had tissues in hand, but I mistakenly thought it was about finding a friend in an old man next door. He corrected me. Said the writer has cancer. She's advertising to find a new love for her husband after she dies. It's tough to read, he said. He looked at me and I saw that maybe he had just wiped tears from his eyes. But then the rush of the morning's activities distracted us - reminders to get homework packed, pleas to put the milk away and urgings for like the 10th time, to get off the computer.
When I sat down at the computer to write a couple hours later. I decided to look up the essay. E had to have known that I would - especially after he told me not to. I'm oppositional defiant like that or maybe I'm just a moth to the flame when it comes to cancer stories.
Amy Krouse Rosenthal's essay is tough to read. Not because it isn't beautifully written which it is but because it's heartbreaking. And it's so similar to my own cancer story. On September 5, 2015 the same day as Amy, I would go to the ER when odd pain in my abdomen had kept me up all night. Based on the pain's location, we figured it was gall stones and braced for the logistical challenge of having to have a routine procedure done just a couple of days before our three kids started the school year. At the hospital, we learned my gall bladder was fine but my lymph nodes throughout my abdomen were enlarged - lymphoma a potential cause. We'd find out for sure it was cancer a couple months later.
And like Amy, I'm married to a pretty amazing man and have three children. E and I met almost 25 years ago at the University Daily Kansan where we were both reporters. Early in our relationship, I would often find little notes in my UDK mailbox that were both sweet and funny just like E. He also gets up early every morning and makes my coffee (and the kids lunches which if you're a parent you know what an amazing gift that is.) And our life too has been full of music, good food and art. I consider myself lucky that I get to have E as my person in this life.
Unlike Amy, cancer isn't going to kill me this week, month or likely for many years. I have scan coming up next month and I'm getting anxious about it especially because the strange pains have reappeared. But for now, my life is not another heartbreaking cancer story - not yet and maybe not ever.
Tonight I have a date with E. We're going to eat some yummy food and then go see a band. I get to look at his face across the table and laugh at his jokes. Life doesn't get much better than that.