March 16th, 2014


LJI:1 Jayus

2009 was a rough year in my family.  It started off well enough: my sister-in-law was pregnant with twins; my boyfriend J and I were making plans to move in together.  Then on June 2, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

I had surgery and was recovering well.  I started on the special diet to prepare for the radioactive iodine treatment while also unpacking from our move.  Then in early July my sister-in-law had to go on full bed rest in the hospital, because the twins were trying to get out much earlier than they should.

On July 22, I did my course of radiation, to be followed by a week of isolation protocol.  On the same morning the twins were born, at just over 34 weeks.  They spent a week in the NICU but then were both able to come home.  In early August we did my first set of scans and everything looked clear, no obvious uptake of the iodine and my tumor markers were negative.  After one hell of a summer, things were finally settling down.

Early one Tuesday morning in mid-October I got a phone call from my brother which was odd, differing time zones and schedules meant we usually spoke on weekends.  We chatted for a bit about his newly intense caffeine addiction, how the twins were sleeping, how the whole family was adjusting to two new babies.  Then he paused;

“I’m not sure how to tell you this.  I had this weird dry patch on my cheek for a while and my doctor sent me to a dermatologist to get it looked at.  Turns out, it's skin cancer.”

I had no idea what to say.  I’ve read the phrase ‘all the air went out of me’, but for the first time I really knew what that meant.

“It’s basal cell carcinoma, which is the least dangerous kind of skin cancer, and I’ve been read the riot act about not using sun screen.  I’ve got an appointment to get it removed right after deer season, didn’t want to miss that.”

I knew if they were letting him wait until early December to have surgery it couldn’t be all that bad.  I finally unfroze, and asked a few questions.  He had already told our parents and said they got really quiet. After all, this meant both of their children got cancer diagnoses within six months, even if they were both ‘good’ cancers.  We joked weakly about not remembering living under power lines when we were kids, but didn’t have much oomph.

After the phone call I wandered into the living room where J was getting ready to leave for work.  He took one look at me and asked what was wrong.  Floating somewhere between sobbing and giggling manically I told him; my brother had just called and he had cancer too.  J gave me a big hug, and said,

“Just like a little brother, always has to copy.”

I laughed until I cried, and then laughed a little more.

***Here's my take on jayus.  For those of you who haven't been cursing Gary since he posted it here's the definition: “from Indonesian, meaning a joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh.”  Read more entries on this crazy topic here, voting will open early next week.  Also, I've been fully in remission for 4 1/2 years, P is totally fine as are the twins, and J is now my husband.***