Cancer and Cauliflowers
Cancer, like cauliflower, is also just a word. If you compare the two words, cancer and cauliflower, by their definition alone, then it may be difficult to grasp the concept that both words are interchangeable. Aside from the obvious definition, one being a medical diagnosis, and the other a vegetable, neither word is inherently good nor bad. Cancer, like cauliflower, can be organic in nature, grow in a specific shape and direction, have clusters, or nodules, possess a stem, spread slow or fast, and vary in fractal dimension. If you are severely allergic to cauliflower, it can kill you. Just like cancer. In my opinion, language is a very limited way to express the human condition, or convey abstract thought and emotion. I think this is why society constantly changes the meaning of words (‘bad’ can means good, and ‘sick’ can mean cool…etc). I believe the emotional reaction to a specific word is not innate, it is learned. We humans have learned to be afraid of the word cancer, haven’t we?
I have recently been diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma. Cauliflower of the thyroid. An ultrasound found several nodules on my thyroid, and a biopsy confirmed that at least one of them is cauliflower. Another nodule is suspicious of cauliflower, and the other could potentially be my parasitic twin (I kid, I kid). I will need a total Thryoidectomy (although I swear the doctor said total Lobotomy), and possibly radiation treatment (which I may decline). The rest of my life, however short or long, will require taking a high dose of a synthetic hormone, Synthroid. Lucky for me, I have already been taking a lower dose of Synthroid for almost a decade now (with Bailey’s of course), as I was previously diagnosed with Hypothyroid, and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (the reason I weighed 200 pounds in my early 30’s…). Apparently, my immune system hates me, and has been bullying me for a long time. I am confident, based on my research, that this cauliflower has been slowly growing on my thyroid, undetected, for many years.
Although I feel that removing my thyroid completely is too aggressive of a procedure, and I prefer to ‘wait and watch’ the cauliflower, I have not decided to refuse treatment at this point, as I am still in obsessive-neurotic research mode. I spend a lot of time contemplating the absurdity of all the labels, and diagnoses assigned to people by doctors who are trained to be hyper vigilant, thereby handing out cauliflower stickers to everyone. Why are these small cauliflower nodules on my thyroid, and the tiny Basal Cell Carcinoma I had a few years ago on my face thrown together under the same blanket of fear and aggressive treatment as all cauliflower?
I write this to help my family and friends and myself, cope with my diagnoses, to understand that I have not been given a death sentence, nor am I afraid of having cauliflower. My interest in alternative medicine does not warrant an intervention, and my desire to juice carrots for breakfast, and follow a plant-based diet is not a cry for help, or a mental illness. I am not a psychopathic killer. I am currently the happiest I have been in many years, living by the beach, painting in my art studio, becoming athletic, getting whistled at (Hey! The gardner counts!), and STILL wearing Converse, and shopping at Forever 21. Get over it. I love you, but I love myself more. Good luck eating Cauliflower without thinking of this letter. Stop planning my cremation, and my Black Converse themed funeral.
BIO: I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles. I know that is rare, but there are a few of us left. I use the word ‘raised’ loosely, as I was a typical latch-key kid of the 80′s. My passions lean towards all things creative. I enjoy painting, interior design, architecture, performing arts, vintage furniture, mid-century decor, Frank Lloyd Wright ‘stuff’, and literature (reading and writing).