thoughts on living with cancer


Midwest, USA
May 20
At the midpoint of the journey's life I found myself lost in a dark forest with no straight path I could see anywhere. M.L. Rosenthal's translation of Dante's La Commedia Divina Diagnosed with ovarian and bladder cancers, I received an entirely new subject for writing and a challenge to intensify the second half of my life.


FEBRUARY 9, 2013 3:34PM

Letting it Go

Rate: 1 Flag


 This week I talked to a lawyer  about the possibility of bringing a suit against my urologist for medical negligence. It’s a non-starter, partly because at least in my state, maybe nationally, there’s a one-year statute of limitations for malpractice. Unless I find out that the pain in my side really is being caused by a forgotten forceps, I have to let it go. The other factor is that I’ve had four urologists, trying to find one that’s human and humane, at two different practices and three different hospitals. The lawyer said they’d all come en masse, in white coats, and the jury would fawn all over them.


He sounded like a nice guy, listened to the whole story of the past five years, and wondered why I hadn’t bought an Uzi.


I had such high hopes. The money would have been most welcome, but mostly I just want to hurt someone who hurt me. I’m not a violent woman; I don’t own a gun. The worst I will say of myself is that I think of cruel things to say, and make sure I don’t say them.


But decades ago, I was a judge for college speech tournaments. I sat in on a round of prose because one of our students was performing, and I wanted to hear him. I’d seen him on stage, and he was good. Too good. He did a piece about Vietnam, and it included one story I haven’t forgotten. A young man serving there somehow got a puppy. Every night, he twisted the puppy’s paw until it cried. He said he wanted something else to hurt the way he was hurting. Fortunately, he knew this was not the sort of man he wanted to be, and gave away the puppy.


I have never twisted an animal’s paw to relieve some of my own pain. But I understand the impulse. The now impossible lawsuit wasn’t just about money. I wanted retribution. No, I want it. Now, still, sitting here on a sunny day with a pain in my side.


I called the lawyer because the talented young man grew up and we became friends. He told me to call, fearing that if I didn’t, the whole thing would eat at me like an acid. Now I am trying to focus on the good things—I do not have to spend time or emotional energy on a court case. I am still in remission. I have friends, food, shelter, and a life that lets me indulge in naps.


With this post, I am letting it go.

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Equanimity is a wonderful way to savor cancer-free life. You sound like you made a wise choice.

There is someone posting now at Our Salon, who might benefit from your support and experience. She is newly diagnosed, and going in for surgery this Wednesday. Offering support to new members of cancer club gives a teensy bit of meaning to our own experience, or so I've found.
You are right, greenheron; sharing the experience is the only thing I know that justifies having to go through it. I'm in a couple groups where I can do this, and it helps me as much as anyone just starting down the road. Send me a link to this newly diagnosed woman, or send her mine, please!
I too live with consequences from surgeries past, but not of the negligent kind. The human body is just so temperamental when its perfection is messed with...I wish you success in letting the anger go; vitriol is never a good addition to the body in its precarious balance...and you have so much to live for, why sully the blessing with more of the curse? May your days be textured with hope for the future and the means to get there!