32 years ago on February 1st my mother, 42 weeks pregnant, was buzzing in to the front door of her OB/GYN’s downtown office when her water broke all over the sidewalk. Being February it quickly formed a slip hazard and needed to be salted.
I was born later that day, minting a first-time mom and a first-time dad.I had black hair with frosted tips (I invented that look). I had all my fingers and toes. I had cheeks you could see from the back of my head.
My dad put together a birth announcement using the office xerox machine and a clipping from the day’s Post showing Washington winning the Super Bowl.
I went home to a little house with two bedrooms, two cats, and a dishwasher that your rolled over and hooked up to the sink when you wanted to run it. My dad was good with projects and covered it with wood to make extra counter space.
That is all that I know about my birthday.
One year ago on February 1st I was waiting on a call from a oncologist. Wanting things to be appropriately subdued but needing to be occupied, my parents came to our little two bedroom house and took my little family out for dinner.
It was a Saturday (a Saturday!) so I had no right to expect the surgeon who was not-on-call to call me. He did though, as I walked from the car to my front door. It was bad news, and my dad lingered on the porch for a few minutes. Until it was clear. It was freezing (again, February) and he would tell my mother waiting inside. On the porch, on the phone, I asked about survival statistics and the size of the surgery, adjuvant treatment, recovery time.
The doctor asked, “How old are you?” My answer, “31, today.”
And so my independent study in oncology began. And continues. The year has wrapped, and I am just now considering the implications of survivorship. My former Prof, role model, and if I may be so bold friend Dr.Jess Keim-Malpass studies cancer and its social effects on young adults. Reading this blog post of hers was a bit like looking into a mirror after going all Nell for over a year.