HARD BOILED

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photo by Alonso Nichols

My sister hates eggs.

For as long as I have known her — all but 3 years of my own life — my sister has cringed at the very sight, smell and thought of eggs.  

Which is ironic, given that we are the last two sisters to have our oopherectomies — the life saving surgeries that would remove production of our own eggs in our bodies. 

 

12:56pm. I’m here, once again, in the waiting room at the oncologist’s office. Since 2006, I have come here twice a year to have pelvic ultrasounds, my insides poked and prodded, and tubes of blood unreliably tested for the nearly undetectable cancer that could take my life within a few short years of diagnosis. Ovarian cancer. It’s part of my routine to try and get ahead of any tumors that could quickly multiple within my body, present symptoms that resemble monthly menstruation, but secretly rob me of my health and my life. 

 

I actually love eggs. Fried. Scrambled. Poached. I love the consistency of an over-easy egg when the yolk is just firm enough to stay on the piece of toast, but runny enough to melt in my mouth. When I have to take the corner of my napkin and blot the side of my lip, kind of consistency. The crackle when it hits a pan. The anticipation of seeing crests and waves as my wooden spoon glides along the bottom of a low-heat pan, signaling that scrambled eggs that are just minutes away from being ready. 

 

Every six months, I sit in this waiting room. I am surrounded by women who haven’t had the choices I have had. Who believed they were having menstrual cramps. Who thought their puffy bellies were a result of eating too much and not exercising enough. Who figured the back pain was just signs of getting older. Or sleeping on a crappy mattress. Only to discover, by thankful accident, that they had cancer.

 

They didn’t know what I know. They didn’t know their bodies, capable of growing babies, would also be fertile ground for tumors. And, if they knew what I knew, they would have had their ovaries removed long ago.

 

And yet here I am. Nearly seven years into surveillance. Seven years. Every six months, for the past seven years, I have found company with these women in the waiting room.

 

Many are no longer waiting.

 

This is likely my last surveillance visit. In March 2014, I will have my ovaries removed. I’ll follow in the footsteps of my oldest sister who recently had her surgery. I’ll add scars # 11, #12, and lucky #13 to the areas between my breasts and my belly button. I’ll face surgical menopause at age 38. And, any chances (not that they plans were in the cards) of having more biological children will be gone. 

 

With the removal of my ovaries, I will actually gain so much more: peace of mind, reduction of ovarian cancer risk, and the ability to breathe again. Every month, I am consumed with the fear of ovarian cancer. With the fear that I will be battling chemo instead of a dissertation. That I will be fighting for my life instead of living it. 

 

In January 2010, I embarked on a journey called Marathon B4 Mastectomy. It was a commitment to get my body in surgery-ready condition for a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy. Because I was in shape, I was strong, making it easier to lift myself out of bed, to balance when my upper body was frozen stiff, and to endure the 8 hour surgery. Now, September 2013, I have taken steps to once again undergo a surgery that will change not just my body but the very nature of how my body works and functions. My body will go into hormonal shock. I want to reduce the work that my body has to do in order to be healthy. I want it to be unphased

 

For the past week, I have committed to clean eating and working out with a supportive group of women. We aren’t here to get skinny or fit into a pair of old jeans; instead, we are focusing on adopting healthy thinking, eating and behaviors that help us to be strong, powerful, and happy. 

 

The other day, my sister signed up, too.

 

And, though she envisioned it much differently, she will finally live a life without eggs.

 

And, so, too, will I. 

 

Hard boiled: An adjective describing a person that is seemingly unphased by anything. Derived from the Hong Kong movie Hard Boiled directed by John Woo. (urban dictionary)

 

Peace, love and preparing to go egg-free,

Liza

 

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One Response to HARD BOILED

  1. Sheila says:

    Liza,
    Such a great entry…..and so very glad that those doctor visits will be greatly reduced. I have recorded March 2014 as when “Liza gives up eggs” on my calendar. Love you dearly.
    Sheila

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