Friday, December 09, 2005

I found my lipoid while stretching in the mirror. I had just stepped out of the shower and was toweling myself dry. Raising my arms up to wipe down my arms and armpits, I noticed a bit of a lump on my side about half way down my trunk. I poked at it and moved it around. It felt solid and fleshy, had a bit of give to it. I was always told that if you found a lump on your body, the fact that it could be moved around under the skin was a good thing. It usually meant some kind of weird growth but not cancer. Cancer made its mark on the body and was steadfast in where it was sitting. It didn’t move around. I put it out of my mind and decided that it could be a muscle knot. I had just started working out again and thought that it was a product of that. Plus the stress from work had been pretty bad lately and I thought the combination of these two things made its way forming a tight group of muscles. The odd thing was it didn’t hurt at all. I used to get knots all the time in my neck and upper back in the early days of university and this didn’t feel like those. But I convinced myself it was a knot and left it, put it out of my mind. Weeks past and I was on the toilet at work, sitting down, performing my morning ritual and for some reason I became aware of the lump again. I felt it, poked it around (It was still moving) and felt myself starting to breathe deeper, my heart pounding. What if it was cancer? What if it was a special kind of cancer that moved around? It had been weeks since I had first felt it and what if it already spread to my lungs or heart or brain. The panic was escalating and in order to stop it I finished my business in the bathroom and went back to my desk diving back into my work trying to forget the whole thing again. Maybe if I willed it away it wouldn’t be there in another few weeks. The next time I became aware of it literally sent me over the edge. I was at a theme park with my boyfriend and some friends and while we sat in line waiting for people to finish their ride on the most popular coaster of the park (this was the first line we entered – it was still early in the morning) he held me from behind and this time he noticed. He noticed it and made it more real than it ever had been before. This wasn’t something I could pretend to will away anymore because now someone else knew about it. I started to imagine myself, bald, gaunt and white laying in a hospital bed thinking bad to that moment when my boyfriend found that lump in line at an amusement park and how incredibly happy I was and how much I was suffering now. The panic escalated again to the point where I was almost hyperventilating. I asked my boyfriend if he thought it was anything and he said: “it could be something?” Those were probably the four worst words that could’ve come out of his mouth because it made my hospital suffering fantasy that much more rooted in my head. I was sure this was the future I was headed towards. He saw that his words had made things worse and reassured me that things go wrong with one’s body when you start to get a bit older and instead of sitting and worrying I should just go see my doctor to have everything checked out. Reluctantly I agreed to make an appointment to have my lump checked out. Those few days seemed like an eternity as I played out every worse case scenario in my head every time I had a moment to myself or when I wasn’t occupied with something else in my head. This cancer future was right on the outskirts of my thinking ready to fill my head up and take over when I let my guard down. When the day came to actually going to the doctor I was sure my entire body was vibrating for that entire day. Even worse was sitting in the office pretending that everything was okay. I was only in for a check up, there’s certainly nothing wrong with me. Can you tell? Don’t I look healthy to you? I walked into his office and let the doctor poke and prod around.
“Can you feel? It moves around.”
The doctor looked perplexed and continued to poke around. He asked me if it was sore. I think it ached but I wasn’t sure if it was really aching or me just pretending it was aching because lumps that were sore usually weren’t cancer.
“Hmmm…”
I felt my stomach drop out of me and onto the office linoleum floor.
“Oh, I know what that is. It’s a lipoma.”
“What’s that? I don’t like the –oma part of that.” Cancers always seemed to end in –oma. Lymphoma, sarcoma, etc, etc.
“It’s a fatty deposit. Does anyone in your family have one?”
“Yeah my Dad had one removed from the back of his neck.”
“Yeah. That’s it”
“That’s it? Do I get it removed?”
“You can. It’s plastic surgery though.”
“Oh. Plastic surgery? Really?”
“If it gets much bigger you might want it removed but basically that’s it.”
I worried for weeks and ended up having a fat back. I couldn’t help but see the absurdity in the whole thing. In reverence of my lump, my boyfriend deemed her Fatima. Seemed just as absurd and entirely appropriate.

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