By Tasche Laine
I am grateful to be here. I am grateful to be alive, grateful that I beat cancer, and grateful to have a voice—so I am using it. In June of 2012, I had a thyroidectomy. A third of my thyroid was surgically removed because it had a fluid filled cyst, the size of a small plum, attached to it. The mass had been sitting on my voice box and a mere millimeter from my carotid artery. When I asked if the surgery was necessary, Dr. Lee said, “You want to live, don’t you? If the mass moves and hits your carotid—you’re dead.” I liked this guy. He didn’t have much of a bedside manner, but he told it to me straight, and I appreciated that. After the surgery, Dr. Lee was there when I woke up in recovery. He handed me a pen and a clipboard with blank paper on it, and asked how I was feeling. “A little groggy, I guess, but pretty good,” I said easily. “But what is this paper for?” “Wait, what? You’re talking? Tasche, you’re not supposed to be able to speak,” said a bewildered Dr. Lee, who had given me the paper to write my reply. What was he talking about? Was I hearing things? Maybe it was the pain meds. I mean, yes, he did warn me that I might never speak again, but I didn’t think he meant it! Doctors are always going on about the risks of surgery. You know, yada, yada, yada. I didn’t really pay much attention to it when I signed all those pre-surgery forms. He explained how my voice box had been completely crushed during surgery, and that he had painstakingly tried to re-shape it and make it “3-D” again. He admitted that he thought his efforts had been futile and was positive I’d lost my voice. And then he pointed at the ceiling and said, “Somebody up there likes you.” The fact that I could speak was a medical miracle. The fact that I had zero knowledge of this grim prognosis before entering surgery, I think, was also a miracle. Why worry about something I had no control over? Especially when it turns out there was nothing to worry about in the first place? I can speak! *** Four years later, in November of 2016, I had a radical nephrectomy. This surgery removed my left kidney and the 5.7-pound cancerous tumor that was attached to it. Because the tumor was so large, it required a twelve-inch incision (sternum to lower gut) that looks like a 7 or an upside down L, to remove the tumor intact—to prevent the cancer from spreading. The surgery went better than anyone had hoped, and to this day I am cancer free. I’m alive! So when I tell you I am grateful to be here—I mean it. I feel I have been given another chance at this thing called life and I want to do something with it. I have a voice and I want to use it. I’m launching my first book today. It just went live on Amazon as I write this. Yes, that was a surreal sentence to write. I wrote CLOSURE for a few reasons. First, this story would not let me rest until I told it. I felt I had a story to tell, and even though it is deeply personal, I felt an obligation to tell it. I want to be a voice for the people who feel silenced. My story addresses formerly taboo topics such as rape and depression. It is time to acknowledge the prevalence of these issues—the first step as a catalyst for change. I was inspired to speak out by Milck’s song, “Quiet.” I can’t keep quiet anymore—and I want things to change. This is something I can do with my new life; and if it helps one person, makes a difference in one reader’s life—it will be worth it. I’m taking Gandhi’s advice and I’m “be(ing) the change (I) wish to see in the world.” CLOSURE is a hybrid of two genres—fiction and memoir. It is based on a true story of events in my life, but some aspects have been fictionalized for literary effect, and names have been changed to protect the privacy of the people involved. I hope that you will see this book as more than just a story about two kids who fell in love. Because life is so much more complicated than that. Yes, there is a love story here, but it is also a life story. I am alive. I am grateful. I am celebrating. Life with all its crazy ups and downs is messy, but it’s also beautiful—and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you’d like, you can view CLOSURE here.