Monday, October 6, 2008

September 17th through Sept 22nd, 2008: Sometime back in the mid-70’s I remember some gay theoretician observing that, “Coming out never stops.” That’s been a useful setting for my behavioral compass, and it’s reassured me over the years. I understand it to mean: summon up the courage to be yourself. All of a sudden, I found myself learning to come out as a person with a cancer diagnosis. This started right way when my college friend Ellen came by for a visit the next morning. As she came into my apartment, I was on the phone with my primary care physician throwing around terms like, “sarcoma…biopsy…appointment…oncologist.” With such a greeting at the door, it seemed pointless to waste time talking about what a fine post-surgical recovery I was having. Still, it was hard to tell one of my best friends of many years that I had just been diagnosed with cancer. And then, it was easy. I have been blessed to have many friends who are skilled therapists, and Ellen definitely resides in that category. I recited the chronology from my surgeon coming into my room the day after surgery. We talked, we talked some more, and then Ellen stood up and said, “Enough talking.” She put her arms out toward me. “I’m big and I’m soft.” The night before when I had burst into tears, I went straight into the fear of loosing my life’s path. The next morning with Ellen, my tears were about being comforted by a person who loved me and cherished me. And so a pattern emerged about telling people directly. For the next several days, I called friends to tell them about the diagnosis. Visitors who expected to hear about how well I was recovering heard a different story.

Although I had been recovering quite rapidly I started to feel a distinct pain in my pelvis over the weekend. I had been walking around the park in front of my house, and all of a sudden, walking was very uncomfortable. Then, while walking from one room to another in my apartment, I realized that I could actually feel the tumor in my body. My difficulty with moving forward was due to the pelvic mass that I had to navigate around as if a tennis ball had been implanted at the bottom of my torso a bit on the right side.

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