Yesterday was the five year mark. Fifth cancer free check up. You never know if it's all going to hold, although you hope it will. It's the lesson I find filtering into so many of my characters: once you know for sure that bad stuff can happen randomly and can happen to you, it changes you. But it's also that knowledge you have to compartmentalize and shove down deep where you don't think about it every day. You can know it, but you can't controlled by it except to say that as Jenna does in The A Word, "So eat the damn birthday cake." (actually I'm not sure if this is an exact quote and I don't have a copy of the book near by, but if not exact, the quote is close.) Eat the cake. Do the things that scare you. Put yourself out there because tomorrow things could change.
So there it is. Five years ago, brilliant docs got rid of my thyroid cancer. (In case your only experience with this is through FIOS and John Green, let me say that there are many varieties and many outcomes and often they are actually really good ones for which I am very grateful) They cut stuff out and made me briefly radioactive and my metabolism wandered around and then it was over and I had a rakish scar that was so brilliantly done that if you didn't know me then, you probably have no idea. (You have a youthful neck, I remember the surgeon saying. I'm going to give you a little wrinkle. If you keep the scar out of the sun, it will look great. He was right.)
Five years forward and here I am. I have lived my life and written more books and hung out with the people I love (and sometimes the people I don't) and good things have happened and some bad ones and the world has kept spinning in the also good and bad way it does. But yesterday, I went to make sure because that's what I will do every year for the foreseeable future. They took a bunch of blood and scanned a bunch of things and I walked around with my temporary hospital wristband and ate mediocre but healthy avocado roll in the cafeteria in between appointments and chatted writing for a few minutes with my lovely friend Jenny Moss, a brilliant author and who happens to work in this same hospital. Even typing this I always worry that tomorrow it will be different. But in a few days that will fade to the background as these things do.
Today though, I'm happy to write a chapter in the book I'm working on and go look at new bathtubs and light fixtures and think about the brilliant and gorgeous cover for next year's IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS that the lovely folks at Soho Press just showed me. It's almost September. Fall is coming. (well, such as it does here in Houston.) It's Friday.
Five years later.