Not So Long or Easy a Road
April 1, 2000

Wow. Where did the time go? As of today, it's been 4 years since I was diagnosed with cancer. 4 years since Fred. 1461 days, and I'm still spazzing about my catheter occasionally. I cannot believe it's been four years.

Let's see. March 30, 1996. Typical teen angst and nobody understands me syndrome. Eighth grade, struggling through algebra and getting bored silly about the Civil War in History. Woke up late Saturday morning to find a 3 by 5 lump on the right side of my neck. I waited until AFTER my morning cartoons to tell Mom. Didn't want to miss anything, not to mention I was hoping it'd go away on its own. But by lunchtime, I figured better safe than sorry.

However, not too long before, I'd ranted at Mom for what seemed to me going overboard about a slight rash (which might've been an early sign. Never did find out, not that it's very important). So I figured I break it easily, as a joke. "Hey Mom, I gotta pimple." Yup, the 3" by 5" lump. She took a look, and uttered the immortal words: "Well. Isn't that interesting." So we hit the local pediatrician's, and the idiot (not from this encounter, I've disliked her for a looong time) proclaimed it to be cat scratch fever, whatever that may be. So some antibiotics and several hours later, I'm going for something in the fridge when Mom noticed the lump had grown.

By the time Monday rolled around, I'd had what looked like a cervical collar, then a mirror image on the left side of that first lump. I got out of school (I was happy about that. Irony warning, I guess) and went through a regime of cat scans and x-rays. When the doctor's office called back, and asked for both parents to be present.

We got the bad news there, that it was likely cancer, but they weren't the experts, so.... It was straight on to some specialists about 45 minutes down the road. After that lovely little conversation, on to Yale Hospital. I had a biopsy and catheter (think a tube to pump out blood and in chemo and similar goodies) put into my chest.

I s'pose I'm grateful, all told. It ended up being Hodgkin's Lymphoma, which is the best type of cancer to get. The five months of treatment were a hell of a lot better'n the two YEARS leukemia patients usually have to go through. The side effects weren't TOO bad, up to and including the fact that I learned what it's like to be high (EVIL nausea pills. How can people stand to lose control like that??) and learning I like short hair a lot better. I'm still writing fic that would have never been if I hadn't put Jay in my place with a garg as a roommate, and the fics in other realities that overactive creativity daemons spawned. And of course, there's the traditional learning that my funeral would be standing room only an' all that drek. Not to mention I've got some great friends I wouldn't trade for the world, weirdness and all. I've got a support group and experience that it really COULD be worse.

I'm 18 now. Struggling through physics and having a blast in multicultural history, almost graduated. I still can't go near Chinese food without getting nauseous, and spices drive me crazy. But it's been a pretty great time, all told.

Here's to four years, and hopefully many more. Or at least a few damn entertaining ones. The scars have been worth it.

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