I thought after the barrage of writing this weekend my signs might lay low for awhile. Not so. Today when I opened my email the headline on the webMD daily update read:
STEALTHY SIGNS OF LUNG CANCER
With my mom, aunt and ma mere (name we called my mom’s mom) all dying of lung cancer I have had a fair amount of anxiety about getting it. I just imagine it as this evil invasion in the lungs, taking up precious space where air needs to have room to move.
As an asthmatic, breather of post 9/11 NYC air, and the daughter, niece and granddaughter of lung cancer victims (yes to me it seems as if victim is the right word), I just can’t stop thinking about it. When I opened the email above, I did not expect the reaction I had when I saw this photo.
This is a microscopic photo of non-small cell lung cancer.
When I first saw it, I thought it was some kind of flower seeds or tiny sea life dancing in salty waters. It doesn’t really look evil does it?
It just is.
I think about my scared calls to my aunt and uncle (exactly what kind of cancer did Aunt Kathleen have? What about Ma Mere?), making appointments with a genetic counselor as well as asking my doctor last week for a PET scan. Even though I know the dose of radiology from it is more likely to cause cancer than identify the likely non-existent cancer in my lungs. I have been worrying about preventing those seeds from rooting in me.
And then I see that pretty purple picture and it gives me pause.
If I see lung cancer without labels and judgment it just exists. It doesn’t take away the devastation it has wrought in the life of my family. But our devastation also does not take away from the simple fact of it’s beauty.
Perhaps on “the other side” as my mom referred to the life after this one, even lung cancer has its rightful place in the order of the universe.