Tears are discreetly falling behind my sunglasses. I wipe them away before anyone can notice them. Vivi, my cousin, lying on the sand, rereads the first 40 pages of One Hundred Years of Solitude, hoping to learn something and before giving up on reading the book. In the distance Samirah waves at me as she skips the waves that come at her.
What a beautiful day! Not a cloud in the sky. A cool breeze encourages us to enjoy the sun. It doesn’t let us feel the heat on our naked skins. The temperature doesn’t seem to harm anyone, not even me, who because of chemotherapy has to be especially careful with the sun.
My aunt and Bernardo have gone for a walk. I am sitting on a chair in the sand. I am wearing a cap over my bald head and a sweater because, as I have explained in previous chapters, since I have no hair, my thermostat is malfunctioning. I’ve put on sun protection factor 50, so I can let myself be caressed by the warmth of the sun without a worry.
I don’t know why I am crying. It’s a combination of everything, the beauty of the Atlantic, the fortune of having my family and the gratitude for having the physical strength to be here in Cadiz, almost three hours away from my home, sitting on the beach. But it is also a little bit of sadness and fear. An hour ago my aunt gave me the report of the cytology done 12 days ago. It says there is an abnormality. “Squamous cell atypia of undetermined significance – ASCUS” says the report. Vivi has told her off because by giving me the details of the report my aunt would only scare me, but she just wants for us to not forget to ask the gynecologist what this means. I prefer that my aunt does not hide anything from me. It’s my body and I have a right to know.
According to The National Cancer Institute of the United States, ASCUS stands for:
“Identification of abnormal cells in the tissue lining the outside of the cervix. ASCUS is the most common abnormal finding on a Pap test. Sometimes, it is a sign of infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). It may also be a sign of a benign (non-cancerous) growth, such as a cyst or polyp, or low hormone levels in menopausal women. Sometimes further testing, such as an HPV test, is necessary. It’s also called ASC-US and atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance.”
We may be talking about another cancer, we may not.
I went to the gynecologist at my own request. My grandmother and her sisters had uterus or ovarian cancer. This is the only history of cancer in my family. No breast cancer. So my aunt, Samirah and I want to make sure everything is okay. The oncologist didn’t seem to think much of it. When my aunt asked her, she told us that was the “least of my problems,” but if we were more reassured, she would refer me to the gynecologist. The gynecologist’s check-up went well. She scanned me with the ultrasound and told me that everything looked fine, so I wasn’t expecting this result. Maybe it is nothing and I am worrying more than I should. I don’t want to worry, I want to live in the now. And my now is this infinite sky, the ocean in front of me and the people I love close to me. My now is this weekend in Cadiz, the laughter, the sea breeze, the happiness because physically I feel good. I cry because I find everything around me beautiful, but I also cry because maybe I will not enjoy it for as long as I thought. The happiness is greater than the sorrow though, what I have is the now.