Nothing To See Here
In June 2015, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Surgery, Chemo, Radiation, Reconstruction, and More Surgery followed. Between then and now, I wrote Cancer, I’ll Give You One Year: A Non-Informative Guide to Breast Cancer, A Writer’s Memoir In Almost Real Time.
People ask how cancer has changed my life. Am I more religious? Have I forsaken sugar? Given up red meat? What’s with sex?
It’s in the book, but:
- I’m an introvert now.
- I savor road trips.
The road trip part first: I’ve always loved travel. But now, I crave the jammed-in-the-car/free-hotel-breakfast/seven-hour-stretches–of-highway. I want to craft memories for my children. I want to unravel maps with them, holding hands in White Sands or before Renoir. I know life is a privilege.
But Introversion is new to me. I’ve always been extroverted, social.
Cancer has rendered me insular. There are medical reasons, like exhaustion, like incessant hot flashes. However, there are others: I just want to be with Tim, my husband. I’m a little nervous to be out there alone. I do it sometimes, venture into the world. I do writer things. I flew to Portland for a conference, went to Kentucky for a teaching gig even. But it wasn’t easy, and I missed my small world: family, pets.
(Do you know how many times Tim has attended my readings? Like, a gazillion. Because he’s had to go to every single one of them.)
So, I rarely go out past dark alone. Cancer has left me stumbling at dusk, longing for middle-aged marriage, a cup of tea, Tim, and his nightly bowl of cereal.
Unintentionally or maybe intentionally, I have made it a hard thing to maintain a friendship with me. With some trepidation, I admit that Tim is my world. Saying that—admitting that—frightens me. I love my steadfast friends, the persevering ones, the other introverts. And I’m wary of the vulnerability of my position, my reliance on some guy. Really?
Just the same: I’m an introvert now.
Cancer demanded of me that I get my house in order—because I was going to spend a lot of time in it.
Is this an essay on marriage?
It’s an essay on writing under the cancer rubric.
It’s an essay on road trips.
It’s an essay on writing about road trips under the cancer rubric.