My friend Heather came to visit Monday. She used to live in Albany and we’d get together periodically to catch up—sometimes to rant about things, other times to say things like, “My store is closing” or “Like, I don’t have a f*cking job.” I cannot stress enough how valuable it is to have people you don’t have to shine for, you can be scared and angry, they don’t care. In the case of Heather, she left Albany to go to Philadelphia to work for the DNC, so the stories were excellent.
Heather came because I was scared and she has without fail, reached out to me in times when I’ve been low and texted, “You want me to come up?” When she arrived I was pretty bleak, I was tired, anxious, and didn’t even pretend to try and be a cheerful hostess. I hugged her and thanked her for coming, told her she looked gorgeous, which elicited a riotous and characteristic guffaw and “Yeah right” from her.
We laughed and shot the shit. After about a half an hour my cell phone rang. I answered and broke into an enormous grin as my surgeon called to let me know that the pathology results were back and that my tumor had been, as he had initially guessed, a benign myxoma.
“A woman in my office shared your post. I read it. It was, I should say, a great call to get checked. So thank you, didn’t want to make you wait. It’s benign.”
That was it. And yet it wasn’t, because I felt for about a month that the mass, Sean had come to call my “sidecar”, was a foreigner inside of me, proof of my own indifference and failure to act. It wasn’t cancer, but boy was I still in the wrong. Even now, after promising Kelly Wickham Hurst that I’d get a pap smear, I am two years out with hollow excuses about my doctor dying and life being busy.
Uh-uh. It’s a phone call, some scheduling, and 30 minutes of awkward, then you’re one. That’s it. I am so grateful for friends and benign results and the chance to do better. I hope you’ll try to hold on to the sobering effects of these lessons, at least long enough to look out for yourself.