One of my earliest memories in childhood is going to my aunt's funeral.

She was the cool aunt, my father's older sister. The only cousins I had were her children, although they were too old to play with the likes of a three year old.

She sort of looked like Eleanor Roosevelt. She was the cool one because she bought me Legos and blocks, and didn't force me to play with dolls or anything else that was girly and consequently not fun.

She died from cancer, some sort of brain tumor. I remember her being bald from chemotherapy. I remember her pirate's eye patch, although I don't know what that was for. I remember her screaming in pain one night.

I remember wearing her favorite dress to the funeral. It was blue, with white polka dots. Not very sad or dark or depressing, but what do you give a three year old to wear to a funeral?

They gave me the scarves she used to wear around her head when she didn't feel like wearing the wigs. I still have most of them 25 years later. Occasionally, I wear one.

The worst part happened a few months after her death. My mom, while holding my hand to cross the street, found a lump on my wrist. I had developed some sort of large (quarter sized) bony mass right under the base of my thumb. We didn't make it to the {candy|corner store], 'cause she rushed me home to call the doctor.

It sort of turned out to be nothing. Neither me or my mom wanted me to have surgery to remove it, even though it was hindering my writing. The doctors really wanted to biopsy it. Somehow, the doctor had convinced my mom that if he could 'pop' the cyst, then it was fine. He grabbed my arm and started pressing as hard as he could down on my 3 year old wrist. My mom tore me out of his grasp and we never went back to that doctor.

My mom, who we call the "great predictor", as she loves to tell you what is going to happen to you, told me that everyone still loved my aunt even though the chemo had taken her hair and such. She told me that because this might happen to me, it was more important to be smart, because that won't be taken away from you.

A few years later, we found more lumps. These ones at the base of my skull. These ones had to be biopsied. They weren't cancerous, but the doctors had convinced my mother that the abnormal growths now didn't necessarily indicate that I was going to die from cancer, but given the history in my family, she should get all of them checked out. When the needle hits the bone at the back of your skull it hurts. It hurts enough to not want your mother to touch you so that she doesn't find something else that needs to be biopsied.

My freshman year of high school: more lumps. These ones had the added bonus that they were on nerves in my lower back. Occasionally, they would press hard enough to cause me to lose sensation in my right leg. They told me to quit physical activity, because the muscles in my back were pushing the cysts into the nerves, and they couldn't remove them because there was a chance that they would accidentally slice into the nerve, rendering me useless as opposed to occasionally useless. No more color guard, no more tennis, in short no more fun.

I don't like to be touched. I don't like getting massages. I don't like going to the doctor. I don't want to have to go through any of this anymore.

I have found another lump. It is still small, but when I look at my face in the mirror, I can see it. Right now it is at my temple, right under the eyepiece of my glasses. Nothing is more bothersome than having the knowledge that you might have to have your face biopsied. I have always known that I got to be smart rather than pretty. But somehow, I feel that I am wrong to be so upset about going to have someone cut into my face to see what is growing underneath it. I spend quality time now trying not to have people notice me.

I guess that I will just have to suck it up. It can be worse.