Thursday, October 21, 2021

Calling a Fart a Unicorn

 They found another tumor in one of my legs. It doesn’t even matter which leg at this point. Plus, it’s not a big deal really. Just another bump in the road.

The kids asked me last night how many tumors I have.

“One in each vertebrae, one in my hip, shin, leg…neck. Who’s counting? At least the cancerous tumor in my brain responded to treatment.”

“Wow. I guess that’s one way to find something good,” my son said.

“I’m just done focusing on the bad. It’s like studying for a test and still failing. I’m just gonna stop focusing on my score.”

“I’m so sorry this illness has been hard on you,” a friend said later that afternoon when I told her about the new tumor.

I hate that. It’s not that I need to feel like I have leprosy or something, but simply calling stage 4 melanoma an “illness” is like calling a fart a unicorn. Talk about the ultimate minimization. “This illness”… blah.

I said goodbye and hung up right before calling Ruby, my 19-year-old who is seriously—no bias—one of the coolest people you could ever meet. She’s almost a tattoo artist (just finishing her two-year apprenticeship) AND she recently got herself a motorcycle instead of a man. That kid knows what she wants, and she gets ‘er done regardless of obstacles!

“Ruby,” I said. “This isn’t a pity party, but I should probably give you the latest update.”

“O-kay?” she said in this adorable way that only she can.

“There’s a new tumor in my leg AND a lump in my boob.”

I heard her inhale sharply. “Oh, Mom. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s no big deal! I’m just becoming a nonprofit tumor factory. They say, ‘Do what you’re good at’—and I took their words to heart.”

“Mom,” she laughed, “I love you so much.” And somehow her response made everything bearable. 

I called Mike later.  “If they cut off my leg and my boob, will you still be proud I’m your wife? Will you still love me?”

Mike broke out laughing. “Depends on which boob.”

“What?!” I nearly bellowed.

“You’re ridiculous—and dramatic. Of course I will ALWAYS love you. You’d still be you.”

“Yeah. But I’d look a lot different in my fancy dresses.” Then we made some pretty inappropriate jokes about it just being a “flesh wound.”

“Hey, did you hear Chrissy has stage 3 kidney cancer?” I asked him after we’d stopped laughing about me being “half the person I used to be.”

I sighed. “She said she feels dumb complaining to me—after everything we’ve been through.”

“Why? No two situations are the same.” 

“That’s exactly what I said! She shouldn’t minimize what they’re  going through. Both of our situations are hard—I can’t imagine what they’re enduring. I’m just glad we have each other’s backs and that we can find the good together.”

So, today is good because I still have two legs, two boobs, a sense of humor, and doctors who are competent enough to even find new tumors.

I start treatments again on Nov. 4. I’m counting down the days so we can fight this thing again. The best any of us can do is try—while still focusing on the good! So, that’s what I’m doing. I’m too busy seeing the good side of life to focus on anything else. “‘Tis only a scratch!” Bam.


  1. You're in great hands at Huntsman and you're in a good "zone" mentally. With both of these in your corner you've got a fighting chance!