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07 August 2012

Cut My Throat

Tomorrow I'll wake up at 4:30 in the morning. It will be dark and still. The black silhouette of trees will be all I see against the blue dark sky in Brooklyn in this very early morning. I won't be awakened because my son is teething or had a scary dream. I'm awake because I need to have my throat cut.

I have cancer. Tomorrow morning they're going to take out my thyroid and anything that looks abnormal. I'm probably not going to die of this now; it seems likely I will die of something else later. This is because thyroid cancer, and the one I have, is one of the least awful cancers you can have: it's slow-growing and usually only spreads in the neck, if it's going to at all.

Slow growing it may be but it's had a real fast effect on me. It was the day before my birthday that I decided to start writing for you, and the day after I was diagnosed that I wrote my first post. I remember thinking, well, I can let this distract me from the important things in my life, or I can just do the things that are important to me.

It's been said to me that cancer will change my life, and in some good ways. Right now, I think it already has. When it comes to my husband, time always came at a high premium, and I feel like we've fought for every minute together. Likewise with my son - I have craved every second I could get with him, connived and finagled a million little schemes to get more. But with myself, I seem to have let time go, time and time again. Not done what I most wanted to do - out of fear, anxiety, self-doubt. Now, I look at my life and see that for myself - I've had all the time in the world. To do what? Cancer has forced me to see how I've treated myself for the last 34 years.

Now, time is precious and pregnant. In this moment, it is all very clear to me what is important. Being with my son is important; having a stronger relationship with my husband is important; and doing what I am made for is important. In cancer stands the possibility of not being here, of not living the life given to me, of not having the chance to become what it's in me to be. Of missing my chance to care for the world the way it has cared for me.

It will be dark and quiet tomorrow morning. I will leave home with a throat that is blocked. But I will come home with a body that has a new space and new vulnerability. I will come home a little less the woman I used to be, with a new opening in my throat. A second place to breathe, a second place to speak. I will receive the chance to have a new voice.


  1. Hey... I've been on vacation and only now read this post. I hope everything went well and you are in good shape. Please know that I love you and care for you. Hang in there.

    1. Thank you, Mark. It's good to hear from you and your words mean a lot to me. I'm hangin' in - stitches out. Every day is another day to get better.

  2. You are facing this challenge with courage, grace, intelligence and above all compassion. So many have already benefitted from what you have to share. Thank you for this blog.

  3. And what a wonderful photo to accompany this post!