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Once Upon a Tumor
The room smelled of sick people. Its cold tile floors and white walls did nothing to console a person. The beds were not particularly comfy, but I suppose the money is well spent on other things. Things like medicine, medical equipment, doctor’s pay checks, and all that jazz.
It was my first real stay here. I mean sure, when you have cancer you’re here overnight a lot. Now, my symptoms are too strong to take care of myself and both parents have to work to keep up with these hospital bills. So, I’m stuck here, in this sterile sanctuary of ailing disease.
They put my suitcase down on the bed. “If you need anything, just call. One of us will come by every day. I promise. Daddy and I will be back.” My mother always talked really quickly when avoiding tears. “I’ll see you tomorrow, but I have work that just will not do itself. I love you. Get well soon!” She kissed my bald forehead and ran out the door. She had some strange idea that I would break down as a human being and ultimately shut myself off from the world, falling into some black hole type thing. My mother thought this of all parents and their children, but in my specific state, she thought my body would shut itself down, along with my mind if were to ever see her cry.
My dad looked almost humored at my mom’s speedy escape. “She just wants to be strong for you.”
“You better hurry, or else she’ll drive away without you,” I told him. He too kissed my head and waited for my sister.
“Hey baldy,” Sally said to me, looking up from her comic book. “I’m taking my bed back.” We shared a very cramped room at home. I had recently switched to her bottom bunk, since it was getting harder and harder to climb up the ladder and into my bed. “Later.” She waved goodbye and skipped out the door. She could have looked more upset, but this had almost become routine in the many years of my cancer. However, never did I actually have to spend so many months in one room. I had only been here for 2 weeks at most in the past.
“Just don’t use my pillow!” I called after her.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Kido,” my dad said. He walked out, of the room, leaving the door it to swing shut behind him.
I sat, alone, in this room with two beds. It looked like someone was staying in the other bed. There were flowers on the nightstand and the remote lay askew in the middle of the bed.
After about an hour of watching the water drip into my veins, in other words, pure boredom, a nurse came into the room.
“Hello. Are you Cooper Potash?” she asked me in a thick southern accent.
“Is that what it says on the chart?” I retorted.
She double checked her chart, “Yes.”
“Well than, I guess I must be Cooper Potash.”
She looked at me, slightly confused. “So you are Cooper?”
“Last I checked.”
“Ok,” she hesitated. “So, how are you feeling?”
“Well, you know, my life isn’t bad. It could be better I guess. My best friend moved away last year, so that was a bummer. My sister is a pain, but I’ve heard all siblings are.” I was prepared to keep going, but the woman stopped me.
“I mean your body. How is your body feeling?”
“Oh! That’s a different story! I feel pretty good. I can’t really complain. On my way in, I saw a pretty bad burn victim. Looked like it was 3rd degree, and honestly, I’m glad I don’t need skin replacements. Bone marrow sure, but skin… yuck.”
I heard a chuckling from the next bed. A little girl, about 8, was perched against her pillows. She looked at me, then to the baffled nurse.
“When did you get here?” I asked her.
“I came in with the nurse,” she said shyly. She was very tiny, so I could not blame myself for missing her quiet entrance. She was extremely thin and undersized.
“This is Emma Hopkins,” the nurse said, finally looking confident.
“Hi, Emma, how old are you?”
“11.” She looked at me, with her eyes bugging out of her head. Since her face was so thin, her eyes looked huge.
“I know, I know, I look like I’m 5.”
“I wouldn’t say five,” I told her. Turning back to the nurse, I said, “I’m fine.”
“Well, I’m Erica if you need anything.” She returned my chart to its original destination and left the room.
“So,” I turned to Emma. “What’s wrong with you?”
“I’m anorexic.” She told me, “I just got out of the psychology wing. But, if I don’t eat enough, I’m going to die or something, so they are keeping me here.”
“Nice,” I told her, barely shocked from the diagnoses.
“What about you?” she asked.
“Cancer,” I told her.
“Astrocytomas,” I said.
“What?” Emma asked.
“I’ve got a big blob in my brain that’s not supposed to be there.”
“A tumor?” Emma asked.
“Precisely,” I said, leaning back against the pillows. I closed my eyes, trying to ignore the fierce headache. The headache was worse than the ones I’d been having lately, but now that the cancer was stage II, it was to be expected.
I opened up the journal I kept sometimes. I was never a consistent diary keeper, but on the occasion where I needed a small outlet, I turned to my pen and paper.
Every time I was admitted to the hospital, I read this from the beginning. I began to read things I had written just three years ago.
Most people write, Dear Diary. Well, I didn’t want to write to some book, but I wanted to be heard. I wanted to talk to someone, not just the lines on my page. So, I decided I would write to my tumor. When I wrote, “Dear Tumor,” it simply sounded silly. Who in their right mind would write to a tumor? Fortunately, I did happen to have a brain tumor and therefore was not in my right state of mind. I felt that this gave me just enough slack to get away with the deranged idea of communicating with my own tumor, who I named, Lorc?n. It meant fierce and cruel in some ancient language. My sister told me this when she was reading a comic book. Since it is pronounced, “LOR kan,” I felt that the name was not only fitting, but very cool also. And it rhymes with organ…
I had just finished a failed 8 months of chemo therapy, and was ready to go back to the beginning.
Hi. I think I should get right to the point, but I don’t know how. They told me I have this tumor in my head. It could kill me… I think, even though no one would say it out loud. I saw their mouths move and I caught a few words.
“… will make it… chemo… surgery… choices… hope… support… sorry… any questions… sorry… only stage I…”
Then, as if my body responded to the stress, a huge shock rose up from my feet. Not for the first time, my hands felt almost numb. I became disoriented. I watched my legs tremble, but I couldn’t feel anything. Then, I was lying on my hospital bed with my family around me and one nurse. The doctors that had been standing around were gone. There was a tray of ½ eaten food on my night stand.
“Oh! Thank god!” my mother exclaimed.
“What?” I asked.
“You had a seizure.” She told me flatly.
“What time is it?” I asked confused.
“You’ve been asleep for about 3 hrs.” For a moment I almost thought it was a dream. Then I remembered why it might not be a dream. BECAUSE I HAD JUST HAD A SIEZURE AND PASSED OUT FOR A FEW HOURS! It seemed that it wasn’t a dream. I didn’t ask because I didn’t want to hear the words again.
I stopped reading. I think about how I do not flinch at the sounds of those words. I no longer shed a tear at the sound of a relapse. I have learned to expect the worst, but hope for the best. It seems to be the best policy when dealing with cancer.
Why? Why? Why?
I don’t know. No one knows. I guess I’ll just have to deal. Maybe if I do something nice for people, like walk around bald, trying to raise money for other cancer patients, I could become famous when I die.
That would be cool. I’ll make this work, use it to my advantage. I’ll probably be able to do most anything I want at home as long as its not health straining. This could be fun!
P.s. The doctors say I have to stay in this “highly unpleasant” hospital for about a week. They want to monitor these seizure meds Dr. King prescribed. Dr. King is my cancer doctor. Doesn’t that sound nice? Pediatrician, dermatologist, and an oncologist- party!
I laughed at the person I used to be. Just assuming everything would work itself out one way or another. I’d die famous or live. What did I know then? What do I know now? Probably nothing, we, as a human race know nothing.
That was the next diary entry I wrote.
If your going to be in my head for a while (not that I’m inviting you to stay, please feel free to leave at anytime. In fact, the sooner the better) I figure you might need to know a thing or 2 about me. I have a lot of thoughts running through my head, and you might as well understand what jumble of information is giving you a headache. And Lorc?n, you’re giving me a headache!
I am very pessimistic, even before I found out about you.
Despite my pessimism, I am a positive person.
I am very stubborn
I am extremely sarcastic and have a sense of humor that no one really seems to appreciate.
I have very rational dislikes of four thing:
the human race
Still hating you,
P.S. in spite of my severe negativity about life in general, I intend to survive.