I’ve had cancer now for 11 years, although I didn’t know it until my diagnosis four years ago. I don’t talk about it much, really because it makes other people uncomfortable. No one knows how to react, and I don’t blame them.
But today’s post isn’t really about cancer. It’s about bodies of muscle and bone and blood.
You see, my cancer creates red, circular rashes on my body that are not only revolting in appearance, but so itchy that I bleed from scratching their tender surfaces.
I’m miserable. All. Day. Long.
I know what you’re thinking. “It’s just itchy, get over it.”
The itching keeps me awake. These patches sting and hurt when I work out, which is every day. They ache when I walk. They itch in a way that I can’t stop myself removing chunks of skin with my fingernails. In a bathing suit, I cover the patches with a towel because when people see them, I can see the look of disgust when they see them. I only have a few spots that I can’t cover with my clothes, but I have random strangers come ask if I got severely burned when they see them.
Most of the time, I’m just happy to be alive, but the other day, I was feeling quite sorry for myself. I was frustrated with my body and how I am literally miserable in my own skin. But then I realized how stupid that is.
I should love this body of mine. We’ve done so much together, she and me.
I’ve looked out from the top of the Eiffel Tower. I’ve grown two tiny babies within my womb. I’ve seen sea turtles while scuba diving, and climbed the Teton mountains. I’ve made love, kayaked in rivers, and danced in the rain. I’ve sped down cliffs on my mountain bike. I’ve rock-climbed and walked in palaces. I’ve rocked tiny babies to sleep, and sang in front of cheering crowds. I’ve fallen asleep with the sun warming my skin. I’ve hugged friends, and caressed a lover. I’ve eaten good food, and ran so hard I was sick. I’ve walked where Michelangelo walked, and saw Tuscany from the window of a train. I’ve stepped on the same rock that held dinosaur footprints from millions of years ago. I’ve ridden in plane at 500 miles an hour. I’ve quilted with my grandmother and watched the sunrise. I’ve laughed until I cried and planted seeds in the ground. I’ve held someone in my arms while they cried tears of joy, and I’ve sought comfort in arms when there was the only a glimmer of joy through the pain. I’ve swam in rivers, laughed with friends, and burrowed into my covers when I’ve been sick. I’ve achieved accomplishments and broached disappointments. I’ve jumped off cliffs into water and stayed up all night reading. I’ve met people I loved instantly and slept with nothing between me and the stars.
All in this one body. I will only have one. It’s not perfect, not on the inside or the outside, but I love it, because it has given me the ability to love and experience life.
Everything I’ve ever done was in this body, and all my future joys well be viewed through these eyes and felt through this skin. Even though I get frustrated with this body and its frailties, it’s really all I have.
And I love it.