When my silent assassin emerged last autumn, I pressed my surgeon about the prognosis for a form of peritoneal cancer that strikes women in stealthy fashion.
“Do you really want to know?” he replied. “Your cancer is incurable.” As I gazed at him in disbelief, he coolly recommended palliative care at a nearby regional hospital with an easy commute. My memory of this moment has a Caravaggio-like quality, a camera obscura scene of shadows and shock. I did not weep. I rebelled. I raged at the notion of being ushered toward a comfortable death by male doctors from a community hospital who confidently assured me that this was the sole treatment for a female malady.