I have cancer.
My beautiful mother is a retired teacher, and I keep thinking about her and the grammar she taught me when I was young. Is cancer supposed to be capitalized with a C, or is it lowercase with a c? I can’t really decide, but I do know that word doesn’t deserve to be proper. I will never use that word with a capital C.
When I showed up to the hospital at 5:00am the morning of my surgery, I was shockingly calm. Nate got Pandora set up for me and I listened to rap music (I know) to pump myself up. I had such a positive attitude and I was ready for this. I didn’t yet speak with my neurosurgeon, Dr. Engh, but I saw him walking through the hall in his scrubs. I felt this incredible sensation of “He’s here! He’s here for me!”. This man was holding my life in his precious hands, and I was so confident in his ability.
A few hours after my surgery, he had nothing but positive words. He said that he was very happy with my surgery, he did not see any obvious signs of malignancy and my latest CT scan and MRI showed that the tumor was gone. I wasn’t in too much pain the next week and I was trying so hard to stay positive, especially after his encouraging words. I really felt like I was going to be fine.
Two days ago I had an appointment with my surgeon for the results of the pathology tests. He started giving an explanation full of medical terms, when all I wanted to know if I had cancer or not. So I just went for it. “So, do I have cancer?” He shook his head and said, “Yes.”. OH MY GOD.
I started crying. My dad started crying. My mom starting crying. Nate started crying. He kept talking but I wasn’t listening. I remember crying, but I think only because it’s a natural reaction to news like that. I don’t really even know what was going through my head. I felt Nate’s hand on me during the news, then it was gone. He walked out of the room. I started yelling that “We just bought a house! I’m not even married yet! I haven’t had kids yet! This is a joke!”
Now that I look back on that, I am pissed. I am mad at Dr. Engh. I am mad that he made me think that I was going to be okay. I am mad that he made me get my hopes up. I am mad that he was the one that said “Yes.”. I hate him. My faith and trust in this man is now gone. My dad said that I have every right to be mad, but he still feels that Dr. Engh did his best. One of the top neurosurgeons in the country is now filled with hate from me. I know I won’t always have these feelings towards him, it’s just going to take time.
Dr. Drappatz came into the room next. By this point, Nate was back. Dr. Drappatz is German and, just like Dr. Engh, has a confidence but not arrogance about him. He continued to say how my type of cancer is very treatable and it is highly responsive to treatment. Whew, that was a half of a mili-second of relief. Then he said that the average time period that patients with this cancer survive was 15 years. For the second time in a 20 minute period my life just practically ended. I started yelling again, “What’s the point then? I’m 28, what the hell is 15 years going to do?”. I stood up and walked out of the room. My legs were numb, I was sick, my hands were shaking, I was close to physically laying on the ground in the hallway.
That night, Nate stood in the kitchen with me and held me as I sobbed uncontrollably, they were sounds that I have never heard come out of my mouth. He squeezed me. I love him.
I just keep telling myself that I can’t change this, as much as I want to, I can’t. So now I have to do what I need to do to fight for my life. My world, soul and heart will never, ever be the same. I’m mad about that. I told my dad that I’m too scared to die, so I promised to live. Right now I praise God that I am able to wake up, love and smile.
I am so grateful today.