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  • davikath8

My Unorthodox Cancer Dream Team

Trauma prepares one for trauma.


I have a deep and developed knowledge of suffering. I know what it is and how I want to handle it. I know when to reach out and when to hunker down. I know how to wait and when to act and what can be done and what cannot be done. I know when it’s right to complain and when it’s right to withdraw.


Weird expertise. Not from a book but informed by poetry, informed by lyricism and rage. A vital heartbeat and a wrenching moan.


If hardship and survival are what I do, I’m going to do them well.


And here again is cancer, reappearing on life’s buffet, plated on my tray like a gasping fish still accustomed to water not ice.


Members of my family of origin reappear, like detritus worms to feed on garbage. Apparently they have not learned anything from me, from my life’s work, from what I’ve written about them, and lord knows I have written about them with the subtlety of a sledgehammer and with the precision of a surgical knife.


It is patently obvious that I don’t want them, don’t love them, want nothing to do with them, and have been formed and shaped by my attempts to survive them, to heal from them, to forget them.


They no longer have the power to hurt me. I will not give them that. They can persist in their ugliness and unhappiness while thinking of themselves as virtuous and blameless. Apparently, there are some even Dr. K. (almost indefatigable) can’t teach.


So I hunker down with my chosen compatriots. D, recovered from cancer, who will crop my hair to prepare for its total loss from chemo. M, the breast cancer survivor and physiotherapist, who fills out forms to get me free services and places her hands on my belly to soothe my troubled abdomen. H, the South Korean acupuncturist, who comes to my hometown from an Afghanistan war hospital because she felt driven to help soldiers in combat zones. G, the pharmacist, whose bright, kind eyes shine below her hijab as she expertly injects me with a drug to stimulate my bone marrow to grow.


If these women can do it, can overcome difficulty to show compassion for others, so can I.


In their honor, in their company, I continue.



Hands of many colors in a circle of caring
Many hands form heart

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