Alright, look. Yes, I’m writing this sarcastically. And also not totally sarcastically. Even my doctor said that he has learned to not ever call any cancer a “good” cancer. Yes, thyroid cancer has a standard of treatment and is highly curable and has a very good outcome rate. But you know what? I don’t want to have cancer. I have felt my life flip out and upside down and inside out and while I will likely be “fine” eventually, and recovered or whatever, there are lifelong implications of this that are not fun, easy, pleasant, or good. Still, I really do that its okay to ask me about it, I just had fun writing this little ditty and wanted to share.
Ode to Good Cancer
I’ve got the good cancer, that’s what they say
All my doc has to do is cut it away
Along with other necessary and perfectly functional body parts
Leaving me with a scar to rival the contemporary arts.
Oh and then there’s the hormone replacement, a daily pill
And finding the right dose could take weeks or months or years, still
It’s the good cancer. Except just about the time post-surgery that I’ll be feeling fine
there’s that minor dose of radioactive iodine.
The doctor will wear a mask and nuclear suit
But I will put the pill in my mouth, no dispute.
Then I’ll be all alone, a danger to society, for several days
My kidney, liver, salivary glands, taste buds, teeth, and more may start to decay.
Once out of isolation, I’m still not free
My body is full of radioactivity
Healthy cells might now be dying, making room for fresh disease
The only way to be sure, for the foreseeable future, is with regular blood tests and more biopsies.
And also? My family lives in Africa, in Djibouti, where healthcare barely exists
Which means my husband was on the other side of the planet while my neck bulged with carcinoma-filled cysts.
Sometimes I feel angry, sometimes I feel scared. Sometimes I feel fine, sad, deep, thankful, tired, happy, sick.
Lucky me! Lucky me! Good cancer chose me for its next pick.
You too? You have a good cancer? But…you’ve got all your hair!
Sure, you lack the energy to walk up the stairs
And your body temperature, weight, skin, emotional balance, sex drive have changed
And you toss and turn all night with dreams that make you feel deranged
You will have blood tests and scans and pills and new scares and strange aches for the rest of your life
And you fear you’re failing at work and at being a good friend, or mother, or wife.
No, medical bills aren’t what we’ve saved money for, me with twins in college at the time of first biopsy.
So it is hard to hear, “its a good cancer,” which might really mean, “Sure is good it didn’t happen to me!”
When we subject our bodies to poisonous “cures”
The line between good and bad radically blurs.
But seriously, non-cancer person, feel free to inquire about how I’m doing, I really don’t mind.
Just beware I might ask, “Would you like some of this cancer? Don’t worry, its the good kind!”
After I wrote this, I found other ‘odes’ about cancer. Here are a couple:
The Good Cancer (ode to Hodgkins Lymphoma)
Ode to fellow cancer warriors and survivors (this one is not so snarky)
Ode to My Hair (truth be told, two of my first questions to my doctor were: Am I going to lose my hair? and, How will this affect my weight? I know, so vain. But also? Honest. Cancer seems to bring out the honest.)
I’m laugh crying. So sorry to hear this news and praying for the God’s healing work in your body and heart too.
Thanks! I laugh-cried while I wrote it, too. And still… what other response can there be, really? :O)
[…] I got cancer. Took it out. It came back. I graduated two out of three of my children. They haven’t come back (yet). I got more wrinkles, lost a lot of hair, developed new scars. Started to get more of those weird bumps that just pop out with age and also some of those funny red dots. What are they anyway? […]
[…] overview: I was diagnosed in September 2018 with thyroid cancer (thyca). In November, I had a total thyroidectomy (TT) but no neck dissection. The tumor was big […]