“Cancer – My Story”

You can also hear me read this story on:

Episode #23 of The Word Count podcast. The theme for this podcast is “Beating the Odds.”

This is a special Word Count Podcast dedicated to Joshua Moore, son of friend and author Maxwell Cynn. Joshua is currently fighting leukemia, and the community of authors, filmmakers, and artists have rallied to raise at least $10,000 to help the family with medical expenses. Numerous people are on board helping with the fundraiser by donating their books, services, and time.
This podcast is an example of R.B. Wood’s generosity in using his excellent show to promote the cause.

Please donate what you can at IndieGoGo: Indies Unite for Joshuaand help us spread the word.

Sincerest thanks,
eden

*  *  *  *

Mine is but one of millions of stories about cancer. It is neither more nor less significant than any other story from a survivor or someone who’s been touched by the disease. I don’t usually share it publicly for a few reasons. Firstly, the word “survivor” carries an undertone of achievement. Metaphorically, it’s as if surviving cancer elevates one to a different status as a human being. I’m not comfortable with that, but it’s clearly my issue. I don’t downplay cancer as a formidable opponent, however, it was never an option for me not to survive. Secondly, cancer does not define me even though it was a large part of my life. Lastly, I am now cancer free and have been for almost twelve years. It’s in the past—and as with most things of my past, I’ve made my peace with it and moved on.

I share my story on a personal basis with those who are going through cancer treatment, and I do it because survivors shared their stories with me when I needed it most. I felt empowered by people who had endured so much—multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, and countless other treatments and then went on to live their lives fearlessly. For this reason, for Joshua and his family, and in support of R.B. Wood’s special Word Count Podcast, here’s my story.

* * * *

The specialist ignored my request to do a core biopsy. Instead, he did a fine needle aspiration to test for malignancy of the lump I’d found on my breast. It was a test I knew carried a high percentage of inaccuracy. I’d done my homework before I went to see him.

“Look,” he said, annoyed with my questioning him. “I can tell you right now you don’t have cancer. You have no family history of it, you’re Asian, and you’re too young.” His voice was authoritative and dismissive, implying he was doing me a favor by even performing any test. It was obvious to me that I was nothing more to him than a body part to examine. After all, he was the specialist with letters behind his name, and I was just a scared woman who knew my body. Though I considered him a heartless bastard whose practice had long outlasted his compassion, I was relieved when my test results came back showing I didn’t have cancer.

When my lump continued to grow over the next few weeks, I returned to my general practitioner and asked for a referral to a different specialist. I wanted a second opinion.

I got a young female doctor this time. She confirmed that fine needle biopsies carried a high degree of error and recommended I have surgery to remove the lump. Given its aggressive growth, she didn’t want to waste time doing additional tests. I walked out of her office slightly nervous, but relieved that I’d made the decision to have surgery. The thought of a scar didn’t appeal to me, but hell, having a third boob wasn’t going to be any more attractive.

 * * * *

On the day of my surgery, my best friend, Mae, drove me to the hospital early in the morning. Everything went off as scheduled, and after the anesthesia wore off, I was moved to a private waiting room where my girlfriend was waiting. We laughed and chatted about where to go for lunch. I was starving!

The nurse who had prepped me for surgery came in with the doctor carrying some pamphlets—post-surgical care instructions, I thought, but no … they contained information about breast cancer—which I had.

The only thing I remembered hearing was the word “cancer,” and then my girlfriend’s quick intake of breath before she started crying.

It was surreal as I watched the doctor mouthing words “Cancer … metastasis … more surgery … oncology …” and other medical terms I’d never heard of at the time.

Finally, at the end of it, the nurse handed me the pamphlets and asked if I had any questions. Sure I did, I had plenty. But my friend was sobbing, and I couldn’t think straight. The questions would have to wait.

Don’t ever underestimate a hungry woman who’s just been told she has cancer, or her best friend who’s quite reserved until she gets behind the wheel. That day, we hit a hundred in a sixty-kilometer zone, barreling down one of the city’s main arteries in search of comfort food.

“I dare a cop to stop me,” Mae yelled at the top of her lungs. “I’m going to tell him you’ve just been diagnosed with cancer, and I don’t give a shit what he says!”

“No kidding,” I said, “as if he can possibly make my day any worse. I’ve got cancer for fuck’s sake!”

“Yeah, but if I get a ticket, you’re paying for it!” she screamed.

We laughed until we cried.

* * * *

From the day I was misdiagnosed until the end of my treatments, there were countless decisions to make. I can only compare it to climbing an old tree with numerous branches. Reaching the top meant I could grab my health back, but there were limitless, different ways to get there. At times, I was paralyzed for fear of making the wrong decision. In the end, I did what was right for me based on all the options I was aware of. As an active participant in my well being—knowledge gave me power.

My mother always said I hated to lose—she was right. There was no way I was losing my life to cancer.

*  *  *  *

Some final words for Joshua

You may feel the weight of cancer on your shoulders right now, but you have hundreds of thousands, if not millions in your corner to help lighten the load.

Keep fighting, young man. I know you can do it. 

Related post: Cancer ~Fuck. The Hell. Off

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26 Comments

Filed under Indies Unite for Joshua, Short Stories & Poetry

26 responses to ““Cancer – My Story”

  1. Reading this I have tears falling down my face. You are a fighter and the world is blessed to have you in it. I am truly blessed to know such an amazing person. Thank you for taking time to share this…You are brave and strong.

    Like

  2. Your story moved me, Eden. I did smile at your ‘Thelma and Louise’ ride home. Well done for fighting.

    I had a hysterectomy because of cell changes that indicated cancer was around the corner. I was 38 and had three children. I needed to see them grow, I took no risks and had the lot removed. I have no regrets. I am one of the lucky ones.

    Like

  3. Oh Eden – I’m crying so much these days, and today is definitely your fault 🙂 Your story moves me. I knew you had cancer but I didn’t know the details. Now I do.

    Last night, it was Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain which made me sobbing my heart out at the convert hall. My eyes are still swollen today, as I read your account of cancer and how you fought it. Guess what? MY husband is playing Miles Davis again at this exact moment next door. No wonder I cannot stop my tears. I can barely type right now.

    You’re an inspiration to us all, cancer or not, you are one hell of a strong woman I look up to.

    Thanks for sharing this timely reminder for us all – never take what we have for granted, least of all, our life.

    Like

    • I’m sorry I made you cry, honey *PassesKleenix*
      Love love love Miles, and truly a loss when he died, but so amazing to have his music live on.

      Thanks for your amazing support with Joshua’s fundraiser – it’s wonderful to have you be a part of it.
      eden
      xox

      Like

  4. Eden, you are awesome. First starting a fundraiser for Joshua and then sharing your story to help him know he is not alone. Thank you for being a gift to us all (and for being such a fighter!)
    Hugs,
    Ardee-ann

    Like

  5. You are a strength I look to, dear Eden.

    I’ve never had cancer but I watched my Dad succumb to lung cancer, my Mom defeat breast cancer, a childhood friend die at 42 from cancer. This terrible thing touches us all.

    Even with support it takes inner strength to go through treaments with a will to win. I think it’s a lonely time even surrounded by friends.

    Joshua is someone I’ve come to know from his dad and you and all the great people pulling for him. He is strong!

    Thank you for sharing my beautiful friend.

    Like

    • Dannie, you’re so right that it takes a lot to beat cancer. Inner strength and willpower play a huge part. but it sure doesn’t hurt to have some friends on your side — whether they are there in person or virtual — it all helps. It certainly can’t hurt.

      Thanks for sharing, sweetie,
      eden
      xox

      Like

  6. Can’t help but notice how your first, ahem, ‘specialist’ was a ‘he.’ ‘He’ was missing something important- and ‘h’ at the end of the pronoun. Luckily, sensibly, you continued till you corrected the grammar.

    Like

    • Hi JJ, yes, I must admit ‘he’ was an asshole. I think he was just at the job too long – treated medicine as formulaic … fit me into a particular box. We all know that people don’t fit into boxes. Once I got better, I reported him to the Ontario College of Physicians – I kept detailed journals, so trust me, they got a treatise. He got his comeuppance.

      Thanks for coming by, kind sir,
      eden

      Like

  7. Jean

    I’m glad you’re doing better. It’s difficult to share such a personal story with the world, but I hope your words helped Joshua and his family know that there’s hope, even with such a terrifying diagnosis. Thank-you for sharing your story; touching and inspiring so many to reevaluate their lives. You have a strength not many know, or can fully understand unless they too have heard that word from their docs. I wish you many blessings in the years to come.

    Like

  8. R. Jeffreys

    Eden you continue to move and to touch me in the deepest parts of my heart; with the courage you show in your character, and with the depth of your loving soul. Thank you for sharing this most intimate story, which I know is a very private matter for you; in the hope that it may inspire others to come together, as one, for the common cause of helping another in need. I adore you, and I am honored to call you my friend.
    ~ Jeff
    xoxo
    .

    Like

  9. Marie

    Very inspiring. I was diagnosed in November and to be honest I was quite prepared to sit back and see what plan the professionals had in store for me.
    It took a while and any test that came back negative put me in denial even further. This was despite being told yes you do have cancer.
    Im in treatment now and your story reminds me that I must be informed and involved so that I too can be a survivor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dearest Marie,

      Firstly, thank you so much for sharing your story. It can’t be easy, and I do hope your treatments are progressing well. *Big hugs*

      The best way to deal with my cancer was to be pro-active because that is part of my make-up. After the initial misdiagnosis, I knew I could not afford to just sit back. Doctors are only human – they make mistakes. I didn’t want to die as a result of someone’s mistake.

      Being informed makes health practitioners pay attention to you. It shows them you are aware, know what they’re talking about, are prepared to ask questions. It makes them accountable. If you care, they care.

      More than anything, do what’s right for YOU. The mountain of information and advice you will receive can be overwhelming. Believe that the treatment you have chosen is the best one for you given everything that you know. It was a mission for me to get my health back. Make it yours and you will win. Email me anytime if you want to talk.

      eden (dot) baylee (at) rogers (dot) com

      xoxoxoxo
      eden

      Like

  10. Eden, thank you for sharing that about yourself. It takes a lot of courage to be open about it, and it’s a disease that touches us all; we either have it at some point, or know someone who does. Bravo!

    Like

  11. justinbog

    I made it back home to riotous puppy cries and tail wagging, and I was looking through the Posts backing up in a long queue that I wanted to share with others, and the ones I needed time to think about before leaving a comment and, eden, your cancer journey, sadly, has an all-too familiar ring to it . . . how cancer touches many, many lives, how a doctor can have the emotional bedside manner of a T2. I have two sisters dealing with cancer, one in remission for over a decade, and the other with a different form of cancer that is linked to her blood but manifests as a kind of rash in the skin, no cure, but kept at Stage 1 with steroids and other practices. So many people, so many kids . . . Your story is an important story to keep telling and I thank you for being so open about your own path.

    Like

    • Hello, sweetheart, thanks for reading and your comment.
      I hope your sisters continue to keep cancer at bay.

      I’m only beginning to feel comfortable about sharing my cancer story with the ‘world.’ I’ve shared on a more personal basis with groups of women, but it was appropriate to do it for the fundraiser for Joshua. If there is anything to be learned from my story, it’s that cancer does not discriminate and complacency will not help win the battle.

      xoxo
      eden

      Like

  12. Pingback: Poignancy Alert: Maxwell Cynn on Mother’s Day and Cancer | | Rachel in the OCRachel in the OC

  13. I am a cancer survivor from 6 years ago. I am not afraid to share my story even though I don’t let “cancer” describe who I am as a person. I tell my story because I know it may help someone out there that is walking the cold walk of pain, fear or even perhaps anger and frustration.💞💞. Thanks for sharing 💞

    Liked by 1 person

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