MAN WITHOUT A FACE
I stayed up for most the night, performing this ritual of
going down to my laptop, typing what was on my mind, going
back up stairs to try and get some sleep, and then going
back down again, imagining what I want my writing achieve
other than a brief moment of sanity and rearrangement of my
current mental status….if that is possible. Stewing over
some criticism my husband shared about my writing and
frustrated by the fact he was kind of right, I drew a
complete blank about what else to type. So there I sat, in
a daze, flipping through the memories in my mind, angered
about so many of the injustices that have occurred and
bursting into an uncontrollable laughter with remembrances
of some really great times.
But there in an instant, my mind flashed me to Good Morning
America where I was being interviewed about a book called
“The Best Cancer”, I was the author, it got such great
reviews, a New York Times best seller and better yet it
gave exposure to Thyroid Cancer.
As I stayed in that moment and wondered deeper into this
fantasy, I wondered if the producers knew about my stage
fright. I also was interested to know what my facial
profile looked like on TV and if the timing would be so
perfect that, “Ed”, my monthly chin zit, would be
accompanying me, or better yet if “Ed” decided to bring the
whole family. Most of all, I wondered if the man without a
face was going to be there. Because he was the one that
deserved the recognition, he is the one that inspired this
dream and I attribute my being alive today to everything
that he has done and helped me get through.
It was after my second…..well technically…..third surgery
that he arrived. Confidently walking into my hospital
room, tall and slender with a dark suit, glasses of a sort
of octagonal shape and sandy blonde hair…. he was dressed
to the 9’s. With profound detail and a heavy Scottish
accent, he came to my side and explained what in the hell
happened to my neck the day before. I tried hard to focus
my swollen eyes to get a glimpse through his, as by this
time my trust in the “MD” behind any name didn’t mean shit.
Whether or not gazing into the eyes is a reliable way to
find out how legitimate someone is, I am not certain.
However it seems to work for me and is, without fail,
supported only moments later by some act of unadulterated
ignorance or intellectual insight. However, very rarely
the eye examination isn’t necessary, the presence alone
defines them. The latter is what explained him.
So, back to my story…… he walks into my room with his deep
accent, introducing himself with the last name McIver. It
was a name I would never forget simply because it was
pronounced like MacGyver, oh’ how I loved that show. He
started speaking in detail about the cancer that was taken
out, the cancer that was still left and the reason why I
looked like a war zone. Through his words I tried so hard
to study his face, how his ear lobes were structured, which
way he parted his hair, if he had pointed eye teeth and the
color of his eyes. For those are the first things I study
about most everyone. But, when the conversation ended just
words and a silhouette remained engrained in my mind.
It is so unlike me. I am such a visual person, never
forgetting a face and always forgetting a name. But its,
even more bizarre that this sort of fuzzy black out, if you
will, occurred for several visits over the course of at
least two years.
Time and time again, I would travel to his clinic, going
through the battery of tests he had waiting for me when I
arrived and lastly meeting with him to go over the results.
Time and time again, I could give exact details about the
new computer monitor, the upgraded prescription printer,
the corked tile that is lifting underneath the bench, the
newest scratch on his “clean linen” tag and the tiniest
piece of fuzz that remained in the corner from the previous
visit. But, for the life of me, I could never come back
home remembering the details of his face.
I don’t know if my mind was in such awe, for him being so
intelligent and forth right about my disease, that I became
entranced by his accented words and ability to communicate
with transparency. Maybe I didn’t care for whatever emerged
through his lips didn’t need eyes or a face to back it up.
Or maybe……. it’s another mental disorder I should place on
my “probably have” list.
Family Physician #1:
Description: male, has a face, has a name and he
should never of received his license to
practice anything medically related.
When I came to you feeling a tiny lump in my neck you
said “it is a goiter.” You looked at me like I was
crazy for even being in your office to begin with. I
thought goiters were nutritional issues, I even
questioned you on that. One thing you did was a blood
test which turned out okay. But, did you know that
people, in the United States “specifically my age”
with lumps on their neck, and normal blood draws
generally don’t have goiters? It’s usually cancer
“dumb ass!” It’s usually treatable right now. You
could of done the right thing, referred me on, given
me an ultrasound or something more than what you did
by just sending me home. You could of changed the
course of my history right then and there in your
office. You, you could have been “it”, but decided to
make the executive decision of a goiter.
I often wonder if you knew what happened to me just
several months later, you were my family physician,
surely they sent you the surgical notes, I wonder if
you ever regretted it.
ENT Surgeon #1:
Description: male, has a face, has a name and
neither of them are worth mentioning.
You called yourself a health professional. Your ego
was the only thing satiating you! Coming at me with a
banded mirrored contraption haloing your albino
colored hair, a needle in one hand and grabbing my
tumor with your other, “90% chance its cancer” is what
you said. My throat immediately closed up, tears welt
in my eyes, I couldn’t catch my breath…..you took that
as your opportunity to jab your needle deeper into my
esophagus. I could feel the cells sucking up into your
syringe. Did you know that most people do ultrasound
guided biopsies these days? Yes, AND they even numb
up the area so it doesn’t hurt so damn bad. I guess
that kind of technology doesn’t exist in Missouri.
Heaving a sigh directly at me and throwing your hands
into the air while saying that I needed to “pull it
together” you did one good thing by handing me a
tissue and coldly walking away.
At that moment, my heart told me to run and never
return, my mind told me to trust the symbols behind
your name. It took over two weeks for the swelling to
go down. However, the memory of your forceful grabbing
of my tumor and biopsy methods you used will never
Every moment you spent with me, talking about the
upcoming surgery you kept bringing up Club Med. Making
sure I could “walk the beach with a bikini and little
to no scar.”
I kept telling you I didn’t care about my scar, let
alone Club Med. I told you I was a single mother with
a baby girl to raise. I told you I wanted it gone and
the job done right. You were only concerned with Club
I daily feel the pain from that surgery almost a
decade ago. You were in way over your head, yet your
ego didn’t allow you to back down. Instead you took
on a 10 hour surgery all by yourself. Someone should
of given you a sticker for a job well done…or was it?
White as your wiry hair you arrived in the recovery
room when I told the nurse I couldn’t move my arm. I
told you it was all forgivable as long as the cancer
was gone. You kept assuring me you removed all of the
thyroid and the lymph tissue that was suspicious. You
knew what you left behind, reason or not, you couldn’t
even tell me the truth.
Ignorant people: Too many to count too many to
describe many of them family, many of
So this is what you are talking about….”the best
cancer” huh? I suppose in a way I can see where you
are coming from. After a decade of having it, it
hasn’t killed me yet. Or has it?
Funny how when you asked me what happened to my neck
and I told you, you said that your “cousin had
that”…”it’s the “best cancer”, then immediately
started in about your fake nails. I smiled and went
along with it. But, do you know what I was really
thinking? It was acknowledgement that you were another
one of them.
Sad how when I called you, audibly sobbing about
having to go in for another surgery, completely
shocked by their findings, you had to call me
back……you know, “business”, and when you did…..the
most comforting words came from your lips “honey, life
is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”
I, gathered myself, smiled and went along with it.
But, do you know what I was really thinking? It was
acknowledgement that you were another one of them.
Interesting on how you called me about the
“painstaking” research you did, coming to the
conclusion that it was “the best cancer” so you didn’t
need to make the hour long drive to be there for me.
Overwhelming disappointment stumbled across my chest
my heart ached in grief. But, I managed to push it
aside, smile and go along with it. But, do you know
what I was really thinking? It was acknowledgement
that you were another one of them.
Coming into your office with my arm completely
paralyzed and a fresh scar on my neck, out of the
blue, you decided that now would be the “best” time to
tell me that my daughter has a syndrome but can’t put
your finger on it. Like one big blow wasn’t enough to
a single mother and something like that couldn’t of
waited for a week or two. I mean, we waited 18 months
before this grand statement occurred! But, I guess
that is what happens when you have the “best cancer”
you aren’t privy to such accommodations. So I smiled
and pushed it aside then went along with it. But, do
you know what I was really thinking? It was
acknowledgement that you were another one of them.
Shocking it was for you to tell me that I didn’t
qualify. A person who actually contributes to this
society who is asking for nothing other than some help
with insurance as I went through this. I made too
much money you said. My comment about quitting my job
and bilking the government for every piece of aid that
I could get seemed to be an acceptable option for your
ultimate approval. I rolled my eyes and scoffed at the
thought. But, do you know what I was really thinking?
It was acknowledgement that you were another one of
Devastating on how this “best cancer” led me back to
you. Your abuse, your manipulation, your gambling
problem and your psychotic mind games, getting away
from you the first time was hard enough. Your
stalking, intimidating and threats of killing yourself
if I ever left was horrible enough. How very
depressing it was for me to realize that this “best
cancer” gave me no other choice but to go back to you
so our daughter had a roof over her head, some food to
eat and gave me an opportunity to heal and afford
After trying to make the best of our relationship for
another two years I knew if the cancer didn’t kill me
that you eventually would. From leaving a hanging
noose in the garage for me to see every time we
exchanged visitations to taking two full bottles of
antidepressants and xanax, you were determined to keep
your control on me. As you unconsciously called me on
your way out of this world, I knew what you had done.
I toggled with the idea of just hanging up and going
to bed. Your life at that very moment was in my
hands. There are days I wish I hadn’t saved your
life. I knew you weren’t going to change. I knew you
would continue spewing your hell at me. Even so, I
pushed it aside and went along with it. But, do you
know what I was really thinking when you did this? It
was acknowledgement that you were another one of them.
Many days, I come across you, your different faces,
your different names but one thing remains. Your
twisted opinion on how this is “the best cancer”.
Never giving a second thought to all that it has taken
from me or made me put up with, never acknowledging
that my pain runs deeper than your research, deeper
than your “suck it up” approach, deeper than your
psychotic manipulations, deeper than your needles and
deeper than your manicured nails.
I kept praying that someday there would be someone who
would “get it”, someone who would understand what having
the “best cancer” feels like, what it does to your thoughts
and how it influences your life’s path. I desperately
yearned for someone who realized that I didn’t need
sympathy. One person who felt that ignorance was not an
Grocery stores, business meetings, neighbors, friends,
family, conferences, hospitals, doctors, vacations it
didn’t matter. Time and time again I came across them
studying their eyes, their hair part, their ear lobe
structure and pointed eye teeth. Taking a deep gaze into
their legitimacy, categorizing their intelligence, time and
time again they would be placed on “another one of them”
Methodically searching, emotionally stuck, feelings of
insanity, moments of rage, fearful of speaking my truth,
pacing my soul searching for peace, gritting down upon my
teeth, forcing smiles out of my face, my mind frequented
thoughts of settling, my heart completely enraged by the
idea of it all.
Then, the day came when my prayer was answered. He walked
into my hospital room dressed to the 9’s, octagonal glasses
and a deep accent. I couldn’t see his eyes, I couldn’t
study his features, his spirit corroborated that his words
My whole body came to a screeching halt from the desperate
search of someone who “gets it” my heart smiled and entire
body exhaled. I laid my head back, took in the moment,
listened to his words and embraced his much anticipated
No wonder why I couldn’t remember his face. He is not
another one of them.