I have a red Whole Foods Market hot and cold bag that is neatly packed with the medical records from my first year of cancer. Somehow knowing that the papers, which describe my chemical foray into the world of cancer, are insulated in the same tote that would keep my organic eggs fresh is fitting. Last night, I blindly dug into the recesses of our never used hallway closet until I felt the thick cloth handles of my cancer bag. I pulled it out. I unzipped the red zipper and when I peeked inside, I found a past that I had zero recollection of.
One scrap of paper said that I had a scan on Thursday but that I needed to get my pathology reports and slides sent from another institution first. I had scribbled a fax number and the name Catherine in light teal crayon. Another scrap had the names of oncologists that I know very well now, but who, at that time, were just a collection of consonants and vowels followed by an M and a D. On the same piece of paper, I had written for the first time, “angiosarcoma, radical mastectomy”.
There were entire binders from Dana Farber, Mass General Hospital, Sloan-Kettering, Umass all welcoming me with information information and more information. SO MUCH INFORMATION on pieces of paper that I would never read. There are bills intermingled with path reports sitting on top of blood work that is layered in between scan results. An abstraction of my life, the very essence of my mortal fiber, started to take form from a two-dimensional beginning.
Over that first year, I accumulated more paper than inches of snow in an average Boston January. I measured the stack, which tipped 12 inches. I carried it to my scale, 25.7 pounds. That’s a lot of extra weight to being carrying around all of these years. If nothing else, I have the kindling for a nice fire that could warm the neighborhood should spring decide to sneak away.