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Flowers of Anderson, Indiana by Junior Mclean 








Amanda Dill lives in Southern Oklahoma with her family and a cat. She writes about real life situations—autobiographical or otherwise. In addition to creative non-fiction, she writes poetry--some of which you can find in her book, Katharsis, from Twin Sisters Publishing. When she's not reading or writing (or living, which takes up a lot of time), she's planning all the things she'll do with her free time when she graduates from East Central University in December.













By Amanda Dill

You have brains in your head,
you have feet in your shoes
you can steer yourself
in any direction you choose.
-Theodor Seuss Geisel

Cancer. There, I said it. It’s an ugly word isn’t it? Its mention makes me cringe, as does the word tumor. They’re not taboo words, but they do have bad reputations. Breast cancer fundraisers are all over TV and the internet; there’s a commercial for St. Jude’s or the Cancer Centers of America on TV every few minutes. They’re almost always triumphant yet tearful accounts of how someone overcame cancer or remembrances of loved ones lost. When most people see or hear something about a child, a friend of a friend, someone who lives down the road, or a distant family member who has been diagnosed with cancer of some kind, it’s upsetting.

Damn right it is. The thing is, we see all those things on TV, read about them in the papers, or hear about them through community gossip. The shit hits the proverbial fan when your doctor looks up at you from his paperwork and says:

“I think you might have cancer.”

Well, to be honest, he actually said I have all the symptoms of a brain tumor, but that’s not any less shocking. Personally, I found no comfort in being handed a slip of paper and a bottle of valium along with directions to the testing department for an MRI. Pseudo-comfort did not kick in until about half an hour after I swallowed the first pill. On one hand, it’s disturbing that doctors’ offices keep supplies of valium and other drugs to pacify their patients. On the other, I completely understand why they make it available. It’s not easy to lie in an MRI tube, a rag shielding your eyes, enormous headphones blasting music that doesn’t quite cover up the booms, clangs, and whirrs of the massive machine you’ve been locked into.  When I say locked in, I mean it. They only give you pillows to make you think you’re going to be comfortable in there. It’s not possible. Remember watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the old version, where Augustus Gloop gets sucked into the chocolate tube? That’s pretty much what being inside an MRI tube feels like.

Besides all the other things running though the mind of anyone who, like me, had been told they needed this test to “rule out” cancer, there are all the questions they ask you before you go in. The most puzzling, to me, was their extensive questioning on the topic of metal. Not only can you not have metal on your person inside the MRI tube, apparently you can’t have it in you either. I had to phone a friend—OK, my mother—to verify that I am NOT housing any screws, bolts, rods, plates, or otherwise foreign metal objects anywhere inside my body. It makes me wonder what would happen if you lied and went in anyway. Would the MRI machine cause the offending metal object to throw sparks like in a microwave, or would it simply muck up their large, expensive, noisy magnet?
After an hour and a half of lounging around in the luxury of the MRI machine, I went home, passed out, and slept as long as I possibly could until I had to get up and get my butt to class.
I thought it would be easy, distracting myself, thinking about anything and everything besides what has been, quite literally, on my mind—but it isn’t. I dropped off my kids, drove myself to class, sat, and stared at the professors—but I’m afraid not much sank in.  I’m reminded of a joke my brother and I used to play on my mom when we were kids. We’d tell her there was a spider in her hair, pretending to catch it, or just pointing to where it wasn’t, making her go crazy scratching her head, shaking her hair out in an attempt to remove the non-existent creature. The same idea applies to me. Everything reminds me of what I’m trying to forget. Maybe I’m picking up people talking about brains and cancer center commercials because I’m subconsciously attuned to these things.  Maybe they’re always there, maybe they’re not. I have no idea.
There are a lot of things I don’t know right now. I don’t know for sure if I do have a brain tumor, some other debilitating disease, an over-active imagination, or an over-cautious ophthalmologist. I have no idea when I’ll get the results of the tests they’ve already done, when they’ll want to do more, or what they might find. While this is disturbing, no, frightening—OK, it scares the hell out of me—I have a choice.  I could wallow in all this, whining about how my head hurts, how terrible things are always happening to me, blah blah blah. But I’m not, I won’t. I cannot allow whatever this is to get me.
Regardless of what the doctors have to say about whatever is going on in my head, I have things to do. Two little boys and my husband need me every day, I have classes to attend, papers to write—not to mention a fabulous novel to finish. And that’s just tomorrow. Be it cancer or something else, it doesn’t have me.  I have it. I won’t go down without a fight, but I won’t let the fight take over my life. I choose not to dwell on the situation at hand, taking things as they come, not without regard for the future, but not allowing possibilities to drag me down.