These were written by Elizabeth Blue in a journal format, her thoughts in the first weeks after being diagnosed with cancer…
Alright, day two of three. Day two of three before chemo starts and my body will never be the same again. Maybe I’m being overdramatic. Probably. Long day Friday (11.11.11), chemo, bone marrow, consultation. A B C not in that order.
I’m standing in my closet for five minutes trying to decide what one wears to a surgery (inserting a port for chemo) that I didn’t plan on having a week ago.
I’m standing and standing and my mom and her friend are coming in seven minutes.
So I pull out a pair of underwear.
Because I know one wears underwear to surgery.
And I know one starts at the beginning.
My Least Flattering Best
So I kept smiling and taking pictures because it was the only thing that made me feel good. When I used to smile in pictures I found it my least flattering angle, especially if the pictures were taken from above.
NOW it seems to be my most flattering angle. As I look most like my past self in them. (My past self’s least flattering angle is my current self’s best.) Would I kill to look my past worst now as if it were my best?
Maybe there’s a new best. A new best which will be all the more beautiful.
A Critique on the Philosophy of Science
I’m sitting here at 12:40 AM Tuesday November 15 2011 in my bed in my apartment in The Castle worrying, horribly worried I am. I am worried, horribly because I have had bloating (I only started calling it bloating just now) I’ve been calling it swelling. I’m worried because I’ve been having swelling in my whole body because of this tumor in my (I almost capitalized tumor, went back to consider doing it then stopped because I decided I didn’t want to give it that much power, (just a note)). I’m horribly worried because I’ve been having this swelling in my body from the tumor in my chest which is lymphoma (damnit, I learned how to spell it). The swelling was so bad, I looked absolutely horrible in my face and upper body. It was like I had gained thirty pounds or more in my upper body but especially in my neck and face. It was the ugliest I have ever felt or been in my own mind’s eye. It was so unexpected. Prepared for baldness I was, but this gargantuan two necked creature with beady little eyes and a tiny mouth to seduce me in the mirror? No one warned me. No one warned me how hard I would have to look inside myself for any semblance of beauty. And while I found worth, I didn’t find anything so completely beautiful on the inside of my body that it made me smile as the outside beauty does. I didn’t.
I’m worried because well, see, after a few full days of this, when I got up on Sunday morning (the same morning my dad was flying home) I was bursting. Really bursting, on my face, my skin had tightened so much that it had torn or cracked and there was dried blood on my face from it. And godamnit I was not going to live like this. So I called a doctor who isn’t my doctor but was the on-call doctor at the hospital and he eventually, after hesitating put me on diuretics which make you pee a lot but are supposed to also make you lose water weight. I just became terrified tonight because you see the water has been dripping from my neck and my face to my stomach and my abdomen and my pelvis and now even my ass seems different and I’m terrified they’re never going to get back to the same shape.
And tonight when I got my period because that’s what this has all been leading up to: I got my period three days after I started my first round of chemo. And when I went to pee and saw blood in the toilet I freaked because I figured there was something
wrong with me.
And I freaked because I finally got a little bit of feminism in that moment. And because of the last thing I did in school on the Wednesday before the Friday I went into the hospital, (it was probably the third thing I’ve cared about in school all year so far). I presented on the “Feminist Critique of the Philosophy of Science” with particular adherence paid to the biological sciences. Basically it was all about how the idea of human in our society has been constructed in such a way that is male. This notion has infiltrated most disciplines of thought, one could argue, including medicine/science in which the healthy human is male and singularly female experiences such as menstruation or pregnancy or certain kinds of hormone manifestations are treated as illness. The other two girls in my class didn’t seem to think it was relevant. You know, right now, in this moment when I saw blood in the toilet and it was my period and I assumed there was something wrong with me. It seems pretty fucking relevant.