She wasn't prone to worry; as she'd grown older, she'd lost the patience to really fret. Still, when she laid her hands across her belly that day and felt the hard, heavy lump there, a tickle of fear swept across her shoulders and down her back.
It was her secret for the few days it took her to accept that it was real. The minute the words crossed her lips - Hey, put your hand right here...do you feel anything? - things went into fast forward. Life became a blur of doctors, tests, waiting for results (no way to hurry the waiting). Someone mentioned the "c" word...
She nicknamed the unwelcome visitor her "pumpkin," a reference to her childhood fear of growing a watermelon in her belly after swallowing some seeds. It grew with amazing speed, twisting inside. Pain was a constant companion.
Soon, she was in the hospital, surrounded by frightened and worried family. Her belly was sliced from belly button to pubic bone, the offending thing removed, then the wound closed back up with 37 staples. The incision looked like a zipper.
The surgeon was elevated to hero status in her eyes. He had, after all, saved her life.
"We're going to want to monitor you for 5 years," he said, "just to be sure."
The first year passed without incident, and then the second year.
Today, he looked her in the eye, shook her hand, and told her he hoped to never see her again. "3 years ahead of schedule, kid, but you're good to go. And we're here if you ever need us."
She walked out the doors and back into into the world anew. She thinks that maybe she'll never be afraid again.
“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky –
forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is,
not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness.
In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty
of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both.
This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”