• allisontgruber


Indoor plant garden. Disco pineapple.

Today I received my pathology report from my salpingo (a term I learned) bilateral oophorectomy that took place, oh about 2 weeks ago and some change.

The good news is that there’s “no news.” They were the ovaries of a woman at forty-six, a little scarring from many years of periods with no break because I never had children. My favorite note on the pathology, though, was this: “Unremarkable fallopian tubes” because when you’re a stage iv cancer patient – of any variety – that’s what you’re always after, that’s the result you’re chasing, and wishing on, the scan, the draw, the surgery: unremarkable.

And it was sort of interesting to read the report, to read the clinical writing about my ovaries themselves and see in all the sterility of a pathology report words like “white-pink,” “red-pink” and “lumen.” Almost poetic, that pathology report with all of its color descriptors, some more flattering than others but all in common with what all ovaries, all over the planet, generally look like.

Lumen is an anatomical word roughly meaning “tubular” in relation to an organ, but in botany the word takes on a more interesting meaning to me, that is basically “the cavity that contains the cells.” The holder of all the cells. The holder of the matter we are made of: cells – my Croton, my Pineapple Mint, me, you, everyone and everything we know.

We do share some things, still, us Human Beings. Like internal organs. We have those parts in common. Hopefully they are “unremarkable,” and hopefully they could be described with words other than “malignant chest wall tumor” which are the words that started my “Stage IV” breast cancer story. In 2011, I was “Stage II.” In 2019, just a minute or two before The Pandemic hit America, I leveled up.

I can’t put too much stock in “Stages,” for they are generalizations and while generalizations are most useful for scientific, academic, and creative analytical inquisition, they aren’t great when it comes to trying to define your own Life, your own Life’s Situation whether unremarkable or deeply peculiar.

Some people say their lives are “bad.” I used to say this, too. Some people say they have “bad lives,” and I am no longer Some People because I refuse now to speak of Myself or my Life in such unremarkable, blunted terms “good” or “bad” – the most abstract words in the English language: good, bad. Such terms are useless to me now. Yesterday, I remarked to a friend that as I grow in my Mindfulness and in my ability to meditate and Be Present, some days, when I finally sit down to relax, have some tea, have some weed, I think to myself "It feels as though I've lived a thousand lives today." This, for me, has been the magic of "letting go" to Buddhism when I was fully convinced I hated all things Religious or Spiritual. A good story for another time.

When I found out my ex had cancer, just last week, or just several lifetimes ago, again there was a Shift in me, reader. Not a Change, but a Shift which is what I’ve come to call those little moments one comes to know when one follows a spiritual path, when one practices some version or another of Mindfulness: the continents in your heart begin to drift together like puzzle pieces made of clouds, ready and waiting for their continental borders to blur, to make you whole. Sometimes white-pink. Sometimes red-pink. Always quite specific. I felt such a Shift last week, and my Heart and Mind Shifted, however apprehensively, however nervously toward Compassion. No, my ex and I are not trying to "work things out." We're just trying to do what the lawyers couldn't because Lawyers don't Govern matters of the Heart: we said "peace." We said "fair." We said "no more pain." Those of us who get hard knocks repeatedly might have a better idea of the value of peace, the value of mercy. I don't know. What I do know is that Compassion feels better than Lawsuits. Maybe I'm an American Anomaly that way, but I don't think so.

And honestly, reader, if my ex and I could "make nice" in the midst of such an ugly divorce? Well, it gives me a little hope for our strange, fragile, scary lil' America. People can Change. And Changed people can Shift. This is possible. This is the hope I have to offer today.

Be good, hooligans.

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