Scanxiety by Ally Malinenko

anxiety suffered while waiting for the results of an important medical scan

We are on the couch
talking about the MRI that is closing in on us
as it does every six months
like a terrible record
caught on a hiccuping loop

when I tell you that what I worry about
is the micro-metastasis in the lymph node,
the thought that one little cancer cell
alone and determined
snuck through
found my liver
or my bones
or god forbid my brain
and burrowed in there
growing and multiplying
and that one day I’ll see spots
flashes of light
or I’ll try to tell you a joke
and nothing but gibberish
will come out
and that will be it.

That will be the beginning of the end
of my life.

That is what I am most afraid of

and you smile
because you never think about that.
Because you say, the nodes weren’t broken
Nothing went anywhere you are so sure
so steady
I can almost believe you.

When I ask what you’re afraid of the most
you say
the cancer coming back in your breasts

and I laugh and say
oh please
that’s nothing.
I’ll just chop them off then.

Because that would also be the beginning of the end
of all these fucking scans.

Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collections The Wanting Bone and How to Be An American (Six Gallery Press) as well as the YA novel This Is Sarah (Bookfish Books). Forthcoming from Low Ghost Books is a poetry collection entitled Better Luck Next Year. She’s at @allymalinenko mostly talking about David Bowie, Doctor Who and stupid cancer.

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