Sunday, June 16, 2024

You Have Cancer

Those words are so powerful. It took me over 10 years to be able to write them down. I wanted share now in hopes it can help others who hear them or fear them. I remember the day I heard the words like it was yesterday. I remember distinct details which seem burned into my brain. Generally, I have trouble remembering specifics of a few days ago if I don’t write them down.

We lived in Chicago. I was sitting at my cubicle desk enjoying the sunshine and the excitement of a recent promotion and new role. I got a call from my doctor to come in for my test results from a recent relatively routine procedure. I felt they had done it in part to humor me since they knew I like to get concrete information rather than probabilities whenever possible. I told my husband Michael I would need to stop by the office on my way home so would be a little later. He immediately sensed something was amiss asking, “Why do you have to come in? It can’t be good news.” I laughed and told him, “You worry too much. I am sure it is nothing serious.”

I didn’t give it much more mind share as I wrapped up my day and drove the few minutes to the medical building. I waited until the doctor could see me. When we were in the examining room, he told me those simple words. “You have cancer.” I can’t recall much about what else he said. It felt like airplanes were landing in my head. I saw his mouth moving but could not hang on to the words as they danced around my consciousness without any order. I was a healthy 37 year old with two young boys – how could I have cancer? I had never even heard of this type before: cancer of the uterine lining.

I nodded as he explained things which I couldn’t take in and walked numbly to my car. My whole world had shifted and turned upside down in the span of minutes. I no longer saw the sunshine or even what was happening around me. I called Michael as I started to drive. I felt tears freely flowing down my cheeks as I told him. I could hear the devastation in his voice and didn’t know what more to say. I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around what I had just heard. Surely this was a nightmare and I would wake soon.

Instinctively, I called a friend who was a breast cancer survivor and had lost her younger sister to the same disease when we worked together. She was a no nonsense high powered executive. She told me. “You have to own getting yourself the best care.” She offered to have any doctors I considered.

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