Josh almost gets cancer

Josh Ring

1.    My parents came up to school for a meeting with my doctor on the last day of the semester. I had gotten a CAT scan a few days beforehand because of some abdominal pain. The doctor said my parents should come to go over the results with me. I didn't want to seem scared, but I was. Why did they have to drive two hours to hear about a test? What was wrong with me? I thought about that a lot.

2.    I wanted to know what was happening but I had to wait. I sat in my room and thought about what the doctor would say, how my parents would react differently from one another. I thought about all the different diseases or other bad news the doctor would tell me, but only in the context of the meeting. I did not think about what it would be like to be seriously sick. I couldn't imagine that.

3.    I met my parents at the infirmary. I was convinced I was about to receive bad news. It was raining. I walked in. They were waiting for me. I gave each of them a kiss and put down my umbrella. I tried to seem happy rather than worried. I smiled and sat down calmly. They didn't seem too nervous. They didn't seem to have been thinking what I was thinking. They asked me why I hadn't shaved. I said because my stomach hurt and I was busy with finals. I wanted to look sick if I was sick. They laughed. My mom said it made my face look too narrow. I took a magazine from the table next to my chair.

4.    We were called into the doctor's office and I stood up and felt my heart begin to beat faster. I took a deep breath, but I tried to conceal it as well as I could by exhaling quietly and slowly. When we walked into the room, I sat in the furthest chair from the door. The chairs were set up for us in a row of three facing the doctor's chair. The doctor shook my hand and introduced himself to my parents. That's when everything began to happen. I sat in my chair with one leg extended and the other bent, bouncing. I was watching what happened. It was so familiar. It was exactly the way I imagined it would happen. From the doctor explaining anatomy with pictures to my parents, to him saying that the CAT scan showed a "mass," which could be cancer, to the way my mom was extremely surprised and didn't understand how that could happen, to my father trying to get down to business and find out what we should be doing.

5.    I saw the doctor glance at me after he said anything. I didn't move. I heard what he had to say, I was waiting for everything to get explained, I accepted it. I don't know how long we sat there, but my parents had a lot of questions. My butt hurt from sitting so long.

6.    After the meeting, we went out to dinner. We walked quickly to the car. It was still raining. We drove to a restaurant in town. It was very noisy. We didn't talk much. I knew my parents were watching me. They must have thought I was really sad. I was leaning against the wall as I ate my tuna steak quietly. It was too dry.

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February 2004

God Likes New Things
Abraham Joshua Heschel

You are God in Drag
Jay Michaelson

Davening with Joe
Michael Shurkin

Josh almost gets cancer
Josh Ring

Abraham Mezrich

Shari Goldman-Gottlieb

Spam Poetry

Our 440 Back Pages

David Stromberg

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From previous issues:

War and Not-War
Dan Friedman

Run Like the Wind
Jay Michaelson & Dan Friedman