Like all formerly bald people, I have a standing appointment with the oncologist. Today I arrived for my semiannual weights and measures with the usual amount of dread. Sure these checkups are routine, fairly non-invasive, and perfectly pleasant. But I cannot trick myself out of the actual reason for the visit: has it come back? “Do you have any pain?” is a simple enough question. But any forty-ish mom whose iron has been paying rent to the car and dog for two hours is in agony if she attempts to spring from the floor to fetch a ringing phone.
Sadly, all of my benign groans and creaks now echo a possibility of metastatic disease. My darling doctor assured me that this paranoia diminishes over time, though that’s difficult to imagine after an hour in a waiting room staring at knit caps pulled over hairless brows. Finding me rather spry and not at all lumpy, I was released from the 9th floor with a hug and a promise: by next year, I might go an entire day without thinking (or writing) about it. I don’t quite believe her, but then again, I have a Cancer blog to maintain and another ten years of quibbling with CVS pharmacists.
You might think it’s impossible to put a fun spin on this, but I’m annoyingly upbeat, and there’s another hour before the bus returns small children to my care. In fact, I have something fabulous on the horizon: getting a new driver’s license picture! Because my inability to be photogenic is at odds with my boundless vanity, I’ve been hiding this picture for the past decade:
Well, sort of hiding it. Actually, not hiding it at all. It is so phenomenally bad, that I enjoy whipping it out and bragging about the unbeatable awfulness of this DMV-immortalized Britt, circa 2003:
“Can you believe Bernie married this girl?”
“Yup, that’s my native nose.”
“Nine months pregnant… and I only gained 60 pounds!”
But the next time I return to the 9th floor, I’ll sashay in with much prettier proof that I am Britt Lee, reporting for TumorWatch. (In my mind, I sashay everywhere as my primary mode of transportation.) It’s unimaginable to think I can’t improve on this expiring license photo, and heartening to think I look better after two kids and Cancer than this swollen, 31-year old gal—even if I still envy her long locks and soccer-free Saturdays.
Today, as I giggled for the umpteenth time at the Uncomfortably Pregnant Girl on my ID, I realized that in spite of it all, I’m happier now. Don’t get me wrong: this is no Cancer-is-a-blessing ditty. I’m just so relieved not to be that sweaty girl looking at four consecutive years of diaper changing. And with odds in my favor (luck-on-my-side?) maybe I’ll have the luxury of analyzing the one-year-out paranoia of 40ish Britt with 50-year-old wisdom. Maybe I’ll admire her unflippable hair with nostalgia, and envy her simpler life before little boys had chin stubble and car keys. Maybe by then I’ll be able to look forward more than a handful of holidays without superstition or fear. Maybe I’ll go a full day without thinking (or writing) about it. Maybe there are so many more licenses to renew.