Monthly Archives: November 2010

My Life Sentence…


About a week ago, I was handed a life sentence.  Not a death sentence, I’m not going to die.  But I do have a prison, my body, that will forever change me.  I got diagnosed with cancer.  I’m 41, and my health has been my primary focus for most of my life.  I was a vegetarian for 14 years, a vegan for most of that.  I read labels religiously, nothing processed, no chemicals, no fast food –for 11 years, no soda for as long, I’m a yoga/qi gong instructor, I take my vitamins, and all I keep thinking is why was I so obsessive about all this?  It didn’t matter.  The doctors kept telling me it wasn’t my fault, but really, it doesn’t make you feel any better about it.


I was sick for like the whole month of August. –sick enough to ask Osa to come help me take care of the girls, and he did.  And then I got better.  I thought I was fine.  Then I found a lump on my neck below my right ear.  At first, it was like a little marble that rolled around, but in a week it quickly grew to the size of a teaspoon.  I went to the doctor and he sent me for a CATscan.  He thought it might be an infected lymph node and sent me an ENT specialist who did a biopsy right in his office.  All of these tests seemed inconclusive enough, that he wanted to do what’s called an open biopsy.  By this time another little marble lump had appeared more to the back of my neck.


The morning of the out-patient, 30 minute, open biopsy, I couldn’t find the little one again.  My surgeon didn’t want to leave a big scar on my neck, but he said he just didn’t have a good feeling about it all, and wanted to do the big lump.  Well, it turned into a four-hour surgery removing four tumors and a tonsil.  Yes, I’m probably the only person in the world with one tonsil.  They were all cancerous.  I have about a 3-inch scar on my neck with no stitches, it was all cauterized.


It took me a while to recover from that surgery.  My throat and mouth hurt a lot, but I could talk mostly.  It hurt to eat or swallow anything for about 8 days.  Then I could at least eat soft things, baby food, popsicles, ice cream.  My mom made me really good baby food –especially the mashed spaghetti!


It’s been 12 days since the surgery and 10 days since the sentence.  Today I ate soft vegetables and tofu, and pancakes for breakfast, so swallowing is almost restored, though I’m still on pain-killers.  But food feels good.


Friday, I went for a PETscan and another CTscan to see if there is anymore cancer or tumors in me.  There could possibly be another surgery if they find more tumors, but my surgeon is pretty confident that he removed everything that “looked suspicious,” as he said.  I had to lay still and not move for about 2 hours, and the technicians told me to think about my “happy place.”  All I could think of was cuddling on the couch with Rumi and Raine.  That really told me a lot.


Monday is the big day.  I have my set-up for my radiation and chemo therapies and I find out about the results of the PETscan.  They will make a mask for my face to protect it from the radiation, and I will be told everything to expect.  I will have to go everyday for 7 weeks, but other than that, I don’t really know the process yet.  If all goes well, it should start the week before or the week of Thanksgiving.


Before any of this can start, I have to go to the dentist because if I have any cavities or bad teeth they have to be taken care of before the radiation starts.  But I couldn’t go to the dentist until I could open my mouth, so that appointment is Monday also.


The things I do know about the future, the real sentence so to speak is, I will lose my hair—probably right in time for Christmas.  I will have dry mouth for the rest of my life because radiation will affect my salivary glands.  BUT, by doing all this, this type of cancer should never return, and I can see my little girls grow up.




Halfway home from work, I looked at the clock in my car.  It screamed “4:45!”  I was never going to make in time.  Was he going to be pissed?  Maybe he wouldn’t even wait.  Fuck!  I tried to get out of the office faster, but all these new employees decided that was the time to bombard me with questions.

“I really have to go!”  I finally told them.  “I have an important appointment.”  To which they all apologized as I literally ran out the door.  Of course I wasn’t going to tell them it was an appointment with “Jack.”  But then I never divulged my social life outside at work.  That only caused problems.  You tell them one bad thing, and it’s the only thing people remember, and then dwell on.  Anyway, Jack was different.  He held on to his own mysteries and only divulged small pieces of them like little pieces of chocolate that I was always honored to receive.

He was a writer.  So amazing with words.  And even though I’m well-read, and well-educated, Jack would often use words I would have to look up when he wasn’t looking.  He always picked the most precise words.  I loved waking up to his little gift of words to start my morning, and talking to all hours of the night.  Even on a work night, I didn’t want to stop or tell him I should sleep.

My job was so full of pressure, and asserting myself at home was just tiring.  There was no reason to exude confidence, when I could just let the power be usurped.  It felt good to not have all that responsibility and just relax into a complete lack of power struggle.  I certainly couldn’t do that with someone I didn’t trust.  But he loves me.  He shows me all the time.  I could feel a smile coming over my face just thinking about his words, telling me how beautiful and perfect I am, telling me how much he loved and desired me.  Maybe he had told other women that in the past, but he told me I was the one who was everything he had been waiting for.

I am not going to make it!  DAMN!  I really will be the one he is waiting for if I don’t get home in time.  I hate letting anyone down.  And I will be so disappointed if he’s not there.  Nights without him seem so dark and quiet.  I wonder around looking for something to occupy me and sleep early waiting for the next day that he will enter.

He sent me all this obscure music that I fell in love with, I don’t know if because I felt it was such a beautiful gift or if it was because I actually really like it.  I made a CD collection and put it on my iPod, just so that it would provide me the soundtrack of my days.

Finally!  Pulled into the driveway, a little faster than anyone really should, left my bag –I’ll get it later.  Ran in the house, went to the bathroom so I wouldn’t have to pee when I was with him, checked my hair and face, ran a brush through my hair, put on some lipstick.  Ok, just the way he likes me.  Went back into the living room, opened my laptop.

“There you are, Alyssa!”  he said.

“I know.  I was late.  Work was crazy!”  I began to apologize.

“It’s alright.  You’re here now.”  He smiled.

“Yeah but I hate missing any minute with you!”  I said.  He smiled at me again.

Then he laughed.  “We have our whole future together.  What’s a few little minutes?”

“That’s true.”  I smiled and laughed back.

“I know what you need, you understand my needs.  We have quite a future, don’t we?”  He said.  “You’re blushing!”  He caught me.

“When can we actually meet?”  I asked him.  “I want to feel you so bad!”

“Hold on a second, please…Ok, I’m back.  A train ticket from me to you is just $69.  I can be there anytime you purchase one.  I see an interesting irony in that number.”  He laughed.

As we continued talking, I secretly worked on booking the seat.

“You know, I could wait all day to talk to someone who is intelligent, beautiful and knows herself the way you do.”  He said.  I blushed again.  I tried to look normal on the cam, so he couldn’t see what I was doing, or how happy I was about it.

“I think, my lovely dear, you have charmed me into loving you!”  I blushed again.  I had the two screens open at the same time.  I even got out my credit card, without him seeing.

“It’s done.  I bought it.  You’ll be here Thursday at 8:30 pm.  You’ll be here!  WOW!  In just a few days.  That’s….78 hours, and 42 minutes!  WOW!  I’m so excited!”

“You never cease to surprise me!”  He laugh again, at what I thought was my over zealousness, but really, it was because he had had this exact conversation before.  This was the eighth time he was able to convince someone to send for him this summer.  Not only would he get laid, he’d win that $500 bet with Mark.  Hell, maybe he’d even get to see that movie everyone’s been talking about.