I was diagnosed with cancer on my birthday. When my phone rang and I saw it was the doctor I naively thought he was calling to wish me a happy birthday. That was not the case. Instead when I answered I heard the doctor’s voice crack as he called me by my nickname (we have mutual friends and were acquainted)and then he broke the news.
He’s a year younger than me and his wife is 2 years younger so when he looked at me he said it felt personal. I drove 2 1/2 hours to see him because he is one of the best surgeons in the state with specific training with cancer patients so I was confident I was in good hands. But all of the confidence in the world didn’t change the diagnosis.
I called my best friend to tell her and she freaked out. She hung up and called him immediately and read him the riot act for calling me on my birthday. He cried, right there on the phone with her, and said he was so upset when he read the report he completely forgot it was my birthday. It’s ok, birthdays are about celebrating life…
My surgeon was awesome. He had already lined up the next surgery by the time he had called me so basically all I needed to do was show up to the hospital 3 days later. It really was that simple….but honestly the seriousness of it all had not sunk in….and it really didn’t sink in until a few years later.
I was in a fog. I went into survival mode. I had 2 babies at home. I had no family near me and we were estranged to begin with. I felt alone, in shock, but I didn’t fear scared. I was sad. I was heartbroken. I was worried. But fear didn’t set in until months later. I lived in the moment yet contradictorily I lived for the future. My youngest was 3 years old, my oldest had just turned 11. Cancer wasn’t going to take me away from them. Cancer wasn’t going to take them away from me. Screw that. I had a life to live and children to raise.
The next 7 months were excruciating. Countless surgeries, chemo, radiation, hospital stays. And work, I can’t forget about work because bills still had to be paid. I did everything I could to keep things normal in my house. I felt guilty for hurting my children. Guilty for causing them sadness and worry. The guilt doesn’t go away. Nor does the worry.
And now I wait for another call. At least this time the call won’t come on my birthday.
God bless, and be blessed.