Cancer free for a year now after completing chemo, my survivor’s hair has grown back shiny silver-white, and realizing against social conventions that she doesn’t need long flowing locks to be womanly or beautiful, she now wears it in smart short Peter Pan-ish layers.
Except, when I enter the exam room I can tell right off that she doesn’t feel womanly or smart or beautiful; I have a sixth sense about these things as a woman and as a nurse.
Her guilt, an evil talisman, has grown too large to wear around her neck and now occupies the seat next to her so I roll my chair right up in front of my survivor, box of tissues in hand, and tell her that she is stunningly lovely, because she is, and I push Guilt out of the room, if only for the duration of our time together.
She is fifty-six years old and will soon need to have the left knee replaced (too) as the pain is too much to ignore, and at a steadily increasing 139 kilos, not pounds, she has resigned herself to giving up on any attempts at weight loss because it’s seems impossible to follow the 1400 calorie diet plan the very cute, very young, very (un)knowledgeable, very thin, very-tarian, very well-meaning nutritionist offered her.
I ask my survivor to tell me why this new battle is important, because though it may seem so, she really has not forgotten; it’s just that Guilt as of late has been drowning out her voice.
“Mountains are climbed in small steps one at a time,” I say, then I see the caul of self-loathing lift as she realizes she can.
(Originally published at 6 sentences.)