Find Your Car

 “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. If I don’t
seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you.”

Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Two weeks ago my oncologists found a nodule on my thyroid and another one under my arm. Monday, I had an ultrasound.  The images of my thyroid were clear; no nodule.  Thank God!  But, the lump under my arm is still there.  Yesterday, I went back to my oncologist.  She feels there is a good chance the lump is glandular and probably a result of “out of wack” chemo induced perimenopause.  But, we don’t know for sure.  So, she is recommending a biopsy for peace of mind. 

Only a few days earlier I was celebrating two years cancer free.  Now I am back in the doctor’s offices facing more issues and decisions.  Life is strange.

When I first heard these words, “nodule” and “thyroid,” I admit, I thought, this is it!  I gave it a good fight, but my time has come.  I knew that the “median survival time” for women with breast cancer that has metastasized to other parts of their body is 18 to 24 months.  That should give me enough time to see Casey graduate from OCSA, get Maggie off to high school, Riley to University, finish my book, put things in order and make my amends.  But, for some crazy reason as I was planning my last months on this planet, I completely ignored the fact that some cancers can be controlled for up to 20 years and others are healed altogether. I know that is unlike me but that is where my mind went. 

The funny thing is, I did not wallow in self-pity.  There was no “why me?”  No, it was more like “why not me?”  God gives us only what we can handle, right.  Apparently, God thinks I’m a bad-ass.  I read that on Facebook. 

Anyway, as I left my oncologists office, my doctor warned me, “Deanne, please don’t go researching this thing to death on the internet.  There is so much false information out there and scare tactics.”  I knew she was right.  Last time I went against her orders, I spent a sleepless night worrying about what type of tape to use on my fingernails to keep them from falling off during chemo.  I never had to tape my nails on.  Yes, they became dark and brittle but they hung on just like me.  But, did I learn my lesson?  Apparently not, because the minute I got into my car I googled “nodule” and “thyroid.”   The results:  neck cancer, neck cancer, neck cancer. 

I did not cry.  Not one little tear. 

No, I looked death in the face and like Hip Hopp’n Lil Wayne, “I took its mask off” instead.

And what do you think I saw. 


Everything became crystal clear.  Like a puzzle, the final pieces fell into place.  Life and all of its absurdities became apparent.  I felt free as if years of personal baggage were left behind on the tarmac of ghosts past.  All my fears disintegrated.  I was not afraid to die.  And more importantly, I was not afraid to live.

And then I laughed.  I sat in my car and laughed and laughed and laughed!  I know it sounds a little dramatic but it’s true. 

It’s strange how one can feel so alive when faced with the possibility of one’s own death.  An urgency to fulfill a dream that can no longer wait overcomes you.  That nagging need to travel to Ireland and kiss that damn Blarney Stone beckons.  The sun shines brighter, the air clearer and everything makes crazy sense. 

I drove home in a lucid state.  I knew what I had to do.

But, the minute I walked back into my house, filled with kids and moms partaking in a home school writing class, I felt myself slipping back into my typical way of thinking.  Busy with this, worried about that, life grabs you like a zombie and tries to eat your brains.  How I desperately wanted to bottle that feeling I had in the car just a few minutes earlier and carry it with me everywhere I go, 24/7. 

I may not be able to bottle it, but I know exactly what it feels like.  So, when things start to spiral downward, I just go back to that moment in my car and incorporate it into my life, “here” and “now.”  When I am tired and overwhelmed, I think of that time in the car.  As I wait patiently for my biopsy date, I remember the car, and when zombies are on the loose; car!    

Car! Car! Car!

All is good.

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