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“Good morning. You have cancer”

10:08pm. May 10th 2014. About to head to bed. 

How I’m feeling: Happy and extremely grateful. I was overwhelmed with love today. I also got to enjoy the gorgeous weather.

YouHaveCancer

Note: Read The longest waiting game – EVER before this post.

March 19th 2014.
As I looked up from my hunched over “sleeping” position, I saw with my blurred vision a cluster of about 4 to 6 people come in to my room. I reached over to my night stand to grab my glasses. The head radiologist took one look at me and said “Oooh…You didn’t get any sleep, did you?” I guess by the way I looked, it was obvious that I was very sleep deprived. I replied with something like “No, this is still the only way I can rest in – not sleep because I’m very uncomfortable – but rest in while still being able to breathe” At this point, we had tried many different sleeping positions, oxygen masks, nasal cannula oxygen, adjusting the bed, etc.

And even before I could open my mouth to say “Any updates on the biopsy results? She said:

“Ok, we have final results”
“Ok”
“It is a type of lymphoma”

As soon as she said that, I grabbed my phone. I felt really zombie-like. I barely felt like I was there. With consecutive days of no sleep and participating in this waiting game, my brain was really cloudy – and so I knew that there was no way I was able to process any of what she was about to say. I knew I had to type whatever she was saying out and send it to someone to process it for me until my brain caught up. I frantically started typing away

All I heard was “Good morning. You have cancer” but I managed to get this down in the most recent text message window that was open. It was to my sister.

Screenshot_2014-05-10-22-22-32

The crew left shortly after that. I hit send on the message – and just sat there and got back in to my hunched over position.

I didn’t feel sad.
I didn’t feel happy.
I didn’t feel relieved.
I don’t think I felt anything. I just closed my eyes.

I don’t know how much time had passed but when I opened my eyes, my mom was in the room. She had just arrived. “Mom, it’s lymphoma. They have to do some more tests – but it’s lymphoma” I don’t think my mom said anything. I don’t think she knew what to think of it. I didn’t even know what to think of it.

I wonder what it feels like as a mother when your child is sick. And not just any sickness – but something that was causing her breathing airway to close up. Something that made enough of a case to have expensive procedures, specialists and equipment booked to further investigate what was going on.

How does it feel like to know that your daughter has cancer? Cancer, the one thing nobody ever wants to be diagnosed with – ever. The hope is always “Anything but cancer”. Give me diabetes, heart disease, anything – anything but cancer. That life event in TV shows and movies that cause a dramatic plot change. How does it feel like to know that your 28 year old child is about to go through something you would never wish upon to anyone – no matter how much they did you and any of your family members wrong? I believe that no matter how much we love our mothers, that it’ll only be a fraction of how much they love us. It’s something we won’t quite understand until we have and raise children of our own.

Eventually my sister arrived – and more friends and family. I can only imagine how frustrating it was for them to have not been able to hear it from the doctor themselves and to have the opportunity to ask questions. I, on the other hand was really calm – because I was so out of it. It likely was a combination of VERY little sleep, all of the pain and sleeping medication I was on and some shock from the news. I just remember repeating what I had written in that text message to family members and friends – and feeling oddly emotionless. I was very matter of fact. As if I were reporting to them what date it was and what the weather was like:

“It’s March 19th. It’s chilly out and it may snow. Your daughter/friend/colleague/sister has cancer. Wear a scarf”

What the hell was wrong with me? Is this normal? Am I really not upset, devastated, worried. Am I not…anything? Well, the next couple of days was when things started to sink in a little more – as a result of some not so fun procedures and meeting my oncologist for the first time. It was only then when I started to understand the magnitude of my diagnosis.

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