A ten point update
What happens when everything goes to hell
One: Where do I even begin?
Two: Oh right … okay. Sooo I went in to see my oncologist for a last minute appointment this morning. So I could receive a last minute ultrasound. So that I could learn — six treatments of Taxol in — that my tumor is actually larger than when we started. And that oh right — the cancer might now be in my lymph nodes.
Three: Hang on, I need a moment to process that.
Four: I haven’t even had a chance to be angry, but now I am. Did the doctor fuck up? And am I about to be the one who pays for that mistake?
Five: I don’t know if I even care. I just want to be dead.
Six: I feel dead already. I am actually resigned to being dead in the next three years. I don’t particularly care. I’ve reconciled with my life. I’ve found peace and satisfaction. I am ready to go.
Seven: If there’s anything I would still like out of this life, it’s this: I would like to fall in love. I’ve been ultimately single for my entire life here in San Francisco. But tell me — how do I fall in love? And don’t tell me that bullshit about learning to love myself. No one loves herself more than I love myself. Don’t tell me that bullshit about focusing on my friendships. You know as well as I do that it’s not the same. I want intimate, romantic partnership — it’s a basic human desire. I want to fall in love.
Eight: There’s a new treatment plan. I don’t feel like talking about it. I hate everything.
Nine: The most devastating aspect of this is watching the people who love me deal with it. Most notably my mother, who cried on the phone and asked me what she could do to help. She asked me if I wanted her to fly up here for tomorrow’s treatment or transfer to an office in San Francisco. And I had to be honest with myself — maybe even a little selfish because fuck it, this is my time to be selfish — and tell her I don’t want her around. I don’t want anyone around. Like a cat who crawls under the porch to die, I want to sit with this by myself. I guess that makes the falling in love part impossible, except in my romantic fantasy, my partner is someone who can sit silently near me and whose presence makes me feel understood and peaceful and calm. Who cares though? Everything fucking sucks.
Ten: So she shifted the conversation. “What do you want, Lizzy?” my mother asked me. I want … Peaceful, quiet, contemplative solitude, and money to feed the temporary hit of dopamine that buying a cute new dress or pair of shoes provides. I want fresh organic produce and meat to cook in my kitchen. I want time to write, I want time to run, I want time to go into the office and work on code. I want to drive up to Yosemite to be in the presence of those old-growth Redwoods, and feel the heaviness of their ignorance of me. I want to look up into their boughs and know that they are older than I am, that they have seen the world change over and over again. Under their ancient spell, I want to disappear into oblivion because unlike all of us and our small, desperate existences, the Redwoods care neither if I live or if I die.
I am a thirty-one year old queer Hispanic woman and trauma survivor battling a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. Devoted to social justice and advocating for mental health understanding and resources, I was just six months into my new career as a backend software engineer trying to make space for marginalized people in tech when I was struck with Stage IIa Grade 3 triple negative metaplastic breast cancer. You can read more about my journey in my publication Never Tell Me the Odds.
If you enjoy my writing and you are able to, please consider donating to my medical expense crowdfunder. I’ve got a yearlong treatment plan ahead of me, and I need all the help I can get. Thank you so much for your generosity.