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Old Memory Stays Fresh

Today is a day in my history I cannot forget.

It sticks in my mind like clay at the bottom of a potter's wheel. You might laugh that this is such an "important" day when you learn the situation. But, it is just one of those things that when the day comes up, I automatically realize.... "Oh, it was this date that happened."

My hair all blonde, teased and sprayed in Marilyn Monroe style, I walked with my new date, Jeff, recently returned from Viet Nam, when my new pair of high heels caught on a rise of the sidewalk where a tree root had lifted it.

No big deal for the average person, but this fall caused me to do a split in the worse way possible. I had only been out of the hospital a few days after my Internal Hemipelvectomy surgery and the three months it had taken for me to recovery and heal sufficiently that I could actually walk again and go home. All I wanted to do was start my life all over again, and leave those haunting cancer memories behind me.

My mind set the incident in slow-motion re-play. I felt the heel of my shoe catch on the sidewalk, saw my body going down, tried to catch myself as my legs, betraying me, slid out in opposite directions. Then, the split of the incision pulled apart deep within me, and the hot blood seeped into the area where bone cancer used to be. It had not happened in a slow motion dream but in a blink of the eye, and there I was sprawled on the sidewalk.

Jeff had been a Medic in Nam, his flight or fight reaction were instinctual. When I fell, an odd look came across his face, something empty and desperate. His automatic response was to get me up, and hurry me off somewhere. Anywhere, to take me away from .... what? Enemy fire?

While writhing on the sidewalk, I had to convince him we were not on the battlefield, certainly not with my high heels. I told him there was no place to take me, no place safer than where I was. I had remain calm as I instructed him to go into the nearest restaurant and ask them to call for an ambulance. Because of my cancer history and the familiar physical symptoms I was experiencing, I knew I would not be able to get up and walk any time soon on my own.

I never saw Jeff again. He didn't follow the ambulance to the hospital. Perhaps he was as traumatized as I was?

Long story.....short. I spent another two months in the hospital.

So, today I look at this forty year stretch and pause. Many other things have occurred in my life with even more intensity. Today I no longer dream of falling and tearing myself open. Today I can smile about it. Maybe it's the ludicrous-ness of it all; blonde bombshell, soldier boy, romantic walk to restaurant; it was something out of a movie, and then, the twist...

Jeff, if you are reading this, I understand and I hope you got good treatment for your PSTD. Sending you love and healing.


  1. I can so understand such a day sticking in your mind, it must have been awful. There you were looking glamorous and trying to live a normal life despite your history ... then WHAM! I can't help feeling sorry for Jeff too ~ I hope he has overcome his own fears in the intervening years.

    Jan x

  2. How awful! Funny how things stick with you, isn't it...but then, I don't think I could forget something like that easily either.

  3. I'm actually quite curious to speak with you. I had an internal-hemi in 2010 and the only walking I'll be doing is on crutches. My life will never be the same. I found your blog by searching internal-hemipelvectomy with limb salvage mobility chances. Curious to know, how you found the cancer,where was it in the pelvic, hip area,how big was the tumor. Just amazes me that you can walk. You are so lucky. I truly hope to hear back from you. I'm glad your fall didn't set you back too much. Kat

  4. The cancer had grown inward and upward from the right pubic ramus. I had some bone pain, it ached like a tooth aches. But I didn't understand what the pain was related to. I discovered it while bathing, could feel the disparity from one side of the body to the other. The surgery involved removal of the rt. public bone and ischium as well as any musculature or other tissue related. Massive rebuild of my insides. Muscles moved and attached in other areas. I have no prosthesis holding me together. I was told I would never walk. I had forgotten they told me that. Would be glad to have further communications with you. It may be possible to go without the crutches sometime. I know others who have exceeded expectations. elizablest at gmail dot com


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