You Can't Possibly Let Cancer Have Its Way
Your kids are asleep when you get home and Sophie, the babysitter whose skin breaks out every time she has a pop quiz, looks at you tragically but you divert her by saying, "Look! Look at these great party hats—they go with the plates—see?" You sound like Mrs. Dalloway. Edward hands Sophie a wad of twenties and says, "Thanks, Soph."
You unpack your shopping bag from Michaels and show Edward the candy decorations for the cake you haven't made but will and he says "good" and you can't bear to ask him how he is again because it might come out this time for real and so you just turn on the stereo and as he heads to the answering machine, you say, "Let's do that tomorrow" because the machine says 14 people called and every one of them wants to tell you that you are in their prayers and that God doesn't give you anything you can't handle and what doesn't kill us makes us stronger but Edward is responsible and levelheaded and says, "It could be about your bone scan." You realize you forgot something in the car, maybe, so you say, "Okay, I gotta go get something in the trunk anyway," and when you come back he says, "The scan is on Friday. I'll call Sophie."
The party is scheduled for Saturday afternoon and when you send out the e-mail about it—yes, it's happening, please no cancer talk—you realize you will have to have a conversation with your children before all these people come over. You Google "talking to children about cancer" and you start to worry that some kid will say, "My grandma died of cancer" and then you realize your daughters don't know what death is. Because why should they?
Then you find this line: "Cancer is like weeds in a garden." That's really good—so tangible, so everyday. You think you should send a thank-you card to the person who came up with that phrase. "See how important words are?" you think.
The bone scan makes you cry. "Stay still, please," says the technician, who has an Irish accent and looks like a guy who loves his pub. It's so big, the machine, it's so Willy Wonka/Mike Teavee and you can tell it is extremely expensive and you know very little but enough to know that if they find it in your bones, you'll probably die before you turn 40. And that's why you cry and that's why the technician asks you again to "stay very still" but when he comes to your side to help you up off the table, he has tears in his eyes and you know that he does this every day so why would he cry?