The Dark Friend


I spent the seventh anniversary of my first cancer treatment in the hospital with a big bad cellulitis infection in my leg. When the ER physicians admitted me, I sighed and put myself in their hands. Upstairs I went. I spent that day receiving three different antibiotics. The next day, it was down to two, and on the third day, before I went home, just one.

In the meantime, I had to be a patient. I’m a patient patient. I let it unfold around me. But nobody enjoys a stay in the hospital, do they? Thank goodness I was sick, and too tired to get really bored! I managed to do a fair bit of work on the shawl I’m designing, and I watched as much Law and Order as I could tolerate. Mostly, I dozed or slept and received IV antibiotics at 6:00, 12:00, 6:00, and 12:00.

All that was a week ago. I’m better, and I’ve gotten a lot of rest, even without taking time off work. These times are what, to me, it means to say that I am a cancer survivor. Survivors aren’t unscathed, ever. We might have long-term effects from our illness or treatment, and most of the time we just get on with life. Sometimes we’re sidelined. Then we get up and keep on.

In these times, though, the little kernel of fear that always lives inside me begins to pulsate. What if… What was that you said about my white blood count… Why does this keep happening… In the end, when I’m home, and I’m getting back to normal, that kernel – the remains of what I used to call my dark friend – retreats to its corner, quiets, and lets me go on.