After chemo, the two most beautiful words

After chemo, the two most beautiful words

There are moments in life that can be described perfectly by a movie quote. A car trip home after yet another chemotherapy session is one of those moments for the author of this story, one of the ten semi-finalists of the #afiancodelcoraggio contest. You can read the other semi-finalist stories of the literary prize dedicated to men and boys who are and have been alongside a woman with cancer on the contest website #afiancodelcoraggio. Until 8 June you can also express three preferences by helping to choose the finalists. A jury will decide the winning story, which will become a short film.

Stealing time from illness, with a smile

The two most beautiful words

After chemo, getting to the car is always difficult. More and more so as the cycles come and go and leave their toxic load in her body. This time, however, it's different. Because she almost seems to walk on eggshells, with her knees slightly bent. She has a quick and painful step. The rush to sit down? Or maybe the desire to get away from that place, from those smells? Only she knows how sensitive she has become to smells. I open the car door for her, let her get comfortable. Then I close the door trying to make as little noise as possible and go into the driver's seat. Luckily, it's only a few kilometers to get home. In bad luck, we were lucky. An investigational therapy for non-metastatic triple negative at a center not far from home.
No journeys of hope for us. And an oncologist who knows her stuff.

“How are you feeling?” I ask her.
“And how do you want me to feel?” she says.
“As usual?” I ask again.
"Every time a little worse," she says.

He smiles at me. And I think that without that smile I would have already died. Whenever someone tells me they envy my strength in being next to her, I always have to answer the same thing: if she weren't so determined, I wouldn't be able to help her. Sometimes I think she's helping me. I, suffering from hypochondria, chronic anxiety, panic attacks, have never been so casual and light in dealing with everything. I am no longer depressed. I no longer have any doubts about my abilities. I no longer look to tomorrow. I only see the now.

"What do we do now?" I say.
"And what do you want to do? Let's go home,” she replies.
I still haven't learned not to ask silly questions. But she has learned to laugh about it. And she, in fact, smiles at me. She is skinny. She is pale. She has deep dark circles. But she smiles at me despite her chapped lips. She has a hat placed over a headset. She never wanted to wear a wig. When she started losing her hair I shaved it off. And then I shaved too.

“Today is Thursday,” I think as I maneuver out of the parking lot.
"So what?"
"There's Brezsny's horoscope on Internazionale." We've been reading it since she got sick. We like it because sometimes there are sentences written that seem to talk about her. And therefore of us.
"You're right," she says. "When we get home we read it."
"Who knows what he'll tell us today, with what happened," I say.
She doesn't answer, she smiles at me.

«By the way: do you want us to call the others right away or do it later?», I ask her.
"No Please. Let's wait a little longer. I need to let this settle for a while. We will calmly call from home», she says.
"Okay," I say. And I drive. But I can't shut up. Not now.

«A phrase from a Woody Allen film came to my mind», I resume the speech.
“What sentence?” she asks me.
“I think it was in Hannah and her sisters. At one point he believes he has a brain tumor. Then he discovers he doesn't have it and he makes that point: the two most beautiful words a man can hear are not 'I love you' but 'he's kind'".

She laughs, even though those spasms between her stomach and diaphragm might make her nauseous. Yet she allows herself that sliver of good humor. And as I spy on her with my eyes, driving home, she looks beautiful to me. Like never before.
“I also know two others that aren't bad at all,” she tells me. And then he continues: «what they told me today after the ultrasound».
Yes, I figured it.
He doesn't say them, but I know them. They are the ones pronounced by the doctor.
Unexpected but precise. And unequivocal:
"Complete remission".

"When everything collapses, only the essential remains", a son's farewell to his mother

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