the cancer club

Uterus by eReSaW

I thought that after they cut the port out of my chest, and the breast tissue out of my breasts, that it would be a long, long time before I had to go under the scalpel again. Hm…contrary to what I thought was the conclusion of my cancer story, this is not the case. As I’m starting to realize more and more, once you are part of the cancer club, you are a member for life.

Which is why after a suspicious pap, and a not-so-positive experience with a gynecologist on the Cape, I found back at the Cancer Center at Mass General Hospital a few days ago. If MGH’s Yawkee building is the cancer Club House, the 9th floor is like the Members Only area.  I can’t count how many times I’ve parked in the same parking garage, taken the same elevator up to the 9th floor, and hung a left to 9A. The only difference on Monday was that we turned right out of the elevator and went down the hall to 9E. I have to say, the breast cancer patients got the short end of the stick. The Gynecology Oncology waiting room is much nicer.

In any event, the reoccurring lesions on my cervix have given me reason to expand my oncology team. I now get to put my health in the hands of Dr. del Carmen, who’s got to be one of the coolest MDs I’ve ever met. And even though she put me through yet another uncomfortable exam, she made discussing the resection of yet another body part seem easy (well, easy-ish). She had clearly familiarized herself with my case, had already conferenced with both my breast surgeon and breast oncologist, and spoke to me with great care.

In about 5 more days we will have the pathology results we need to determine the type of hysterectomy I have to have and when I have to have it. If it looks like the unfriendly cells are quickly dividing, I will be looking at the inside of an O.R. this spring. If they are sluggish, I can put surgery off until the fall. Either way, I will soon be bidding my uterus adieu.

I’m not ready to write about the many feelings this prospect is stirring up, or the myriad of ways in which being a patient again is effecting my psyche. But I will. Eventually. For now, I’m trying my best to stay in the moment and recent win. Helen Keller said, “Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content”

Though it seems my members-only card has just been renewed, I realize now, it never really expired.



  1. Kristen Fortin says:

    Your bravery and transparency is such a testimony to what a strong person you are and at the same time how sensitive.. You are helping so many people dealing with life’s curve balls thrown their way and you have always done it with grace. I wish you only the best and although I have only met you a couple times in class, I wanted you to know that you have been an inspiration to me as a mother, woman, and human being. Thank you xo

  2. Caitlyn, Once again your invitation for us to share your experience delivers us into the life altering world of cancer fears, cancer hopes, cancer rage, cancer victories…and we all thank you. Yes, we are in quite the club and our membership requires unyielding faith…You are a blessing in the ‘keeping it real’ club. Sending a huge dose
    of peace and love your way.

  3. Dearest Caitlin – I can only imagine the temptation to succumb to the despair that is right in front of your nose, which makes me admire your beauty, grace, strength and courage all the more! Thank you for being brave and sharing your story – it helps so many to bring their own fears out of the shadows and into the light – it keeps the cancer conversation alive for all of us. We shall not allow cancer to quiet our spirits or sadden our lives. And I am with you, sister. Carry on and know you are lifted up… xo


  4. Caitlin, this bought tears to my eyes… thanks for your honesty. Beautifully written.

  5. you are brave and extremely honest and eloquent. Just got the shivers at the Helen Keller quote- keep fighting in the darkness!! OX

  6. It’s the membership we never wanted, didn’t ask for, yet have to pay the dues anyway. I imagine at times your experience feels taxing, exhausting, and frustrating. At the same time, if there is anyone who can pluck the fruit from a thorny bush, it’s you. You seems to always find beauty and wisdom in the experiences given to you.

  7. Kari England says:

    Caittin,tears are filling my eyes and I want you to know you are an incredible women!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Phyllis Smith says:

    I;m just dealing with a mastectomy and after swearing to myself I would be strong and set a good example for the younger ladies (I’m 62), I find it really hard at times. Thank-you for setting such a high goal for me to follow. Your strength is building me up. Thank-you and my prayers are with you!


  1. […] a personal project, and a much needed distraction. In three weeks, I am returning to MGH for more cancer-related surgery. I am anxious and scared. Because I am a rape and child abuse survivor, thinking about the bodily […]

Speak Your Mind