Memento Mori


me·men·to mo·ri
məˈmenˌtō ˈmôrē/
noun: memento mori; plural noun: memento mori
  1. an object serving as a warning or reminder of death–

So this morning, I’m lazily perusing the online Detroit Free Press whilst nursing a second cup of joe. I get to the Life section and stop cold.

The headline:


My response was immediate and visceral: a punch to the gut; a fear so intense it literally took my breath away. All that fear when I found out I had cancer came flooding back. Seriously, I can’t believe how fast it all came flooding back and I’m thinking, My God, where the hell did THAT come from? I thought it was behind me, that debilitating fear. They got it all, right? That’s what my surgeon told me: We got it all, Mrs. E–. You are officially cancer-free.

But even telling myself this, I had to get a grip before I could read the article, which the Freep was reprinting from the Chicago Tribune. I think you can access it from this link:

Anyway, I got that grip and started reading:

Last year, Martha Montalvo-Ariri underwent a routine hysterectomy to help treat painful uterine fibroids. During surgery, her doctor used a morcellator, a device that cuts the tissue into pieces so it can be removed through small incisions.

Ten days after the procedure, Montalvo-Ariri was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of uterine cancer called leiomyosarcoma. Even more devastating, the rotating blade of the morcellator had scattered cancerous tissue fragments around her abdomen and pelvic area, accelerating the disease’s progression.

Took me a few minutes to process what I’d just read. That’s when I realized I didn’t need to be scared. I’d had a radical hysterectomy, not a laparoscopic hysterectomy like that poor woman, which means they didn’t use that fucking morcellator thing on me.

My relief was palpable . . . for about five seconds. 

That’s when I remembered the D&C. 

Prior to my hysterectomy, I’d undergone a D&C. Not on the original day scheduled, though. It had been rescheduled from an earlier date; something about the person handling the machine not being available that day, something about how my doctor needed that machine to grind up tissue he scraped from my uterus so it could be sucked out–

I think he called it a morcellator, no shit I think that’s what he called it.

I forced myself to think about this rationally. Even if it was a morcellator, wouldn’t any bits of flying tissue have been contained within my uterus? And when I had that hysterectomy, my uterus was removed intact. And it’s very possible the machine my doctor referred to wasn’t a morcellator at all. It could have been something else, which means I’m worrying for nothing and this is all so ridiculous, which it probably is, so why do I still have that scared feeling in the pit of my stomach, that cloying feeling of deep foreboding?

I know why.

Today was a reminder, a whispered reminder from Death, to me:

Don’t worry, kk. I’m not going anywhere.


8 thoughts on “Memento Mori

  1. I can see how that would break you into a sweat. Couldn’t connect to your link but a couple of things came to mind after I started breathing again. The woman already HAD cancerous tissue at the time the device was used, the device did not cause it. The morcellator used in her operation wasn’t likely the exact same device used for yours so if it did cause the cancer it was probably not cleaned properly from a previous procedure. You are completely safe. Absolutely.
    A virus cause some damage to one of my eyes a couple of years ago and the virus is not gone, it’s just laying around waiting to have another shot at taking away my eyesight altogether. When I get the least little pain in my eye, something I’d been warned would happen and not to worry, I have a bit of a panic attack. So I get your fear.


    • Linnea, yeah, you get it. I guess that fear will always be with us, once a person is touched by something so insidious, it’s tough to let that fear go.

      But like you said, chances are, I’m fine, and so are you. The gift of life doesn’t come with guarantees but it does come with people who come through for us, who offer support, who listen to our fears and help us through the rough patches. If we’re lucky.

      I know I am.

      Thank you so much, Linnea. Best of luck to you.

      xo kk


    • Now I’m picturing one of those huge pointed drills they use to cut through solid rock to build tunnels, those massive grinding machines. . .

      And m-o-r-!! As in MOR-tuary and MOR-tician and MOR-tally wounded. . .

      Jen, you are so right! That word is HORRIBLE and now I’m smiling. Gallows humor? Who cares, I feel better so thx, Jen.

      xo kk


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