I have been quiet for a while now. I have had a lot on my mind and it has been hard to make any sense out of it. It was too hard for me to write publicly without knowing the outcome of my recent cancer screenings. I had to get it out somewhere so I vented in one long post I never published to my blog.
Now that I have had some time to breathe, I think I can share it.
I want to scream.
I want to cry.
I want to hit a wall.
I want to shut down.
I want to crawl into a ball.
My brain feels like it is consuming itself and I can’t breathe.
This morning was supposed to be the weight off my shoulders moment I had been dreading for months now.
I had my thyroid cancer follow up ultrasound.
Last night I was so afraid and filled with torturing amounts of anxiety I couldn’t sleep.
I put Noah down to bed and curled into a ball next to the crib on the floor and sobbed.
Kevin picked me up and took me to the bedroom and held me as I lost my mind.
I don’t say it lightly when I say lost my mind. I cried. I screamed. I shook. I hit the bed. I begged. I denied. I pleaded. I got angry.
With tears in his eyes Kevin held me and let me purge my fear and pain.
I was so afraid.
Since having Noah my anxiety revolving around my cancer has gone through the roof. At times it has been debilitating. I look at him and love him so much it hurts.
Before I was diagnosed the first time waiting to go to the hospital for my first ultrasound which showed the tumor all I could say was, “I am not ready. I am not ready. I can’t do this.”
Last night that was all I could think….I can’t do this. I don’t think anyone is ever “ready”.
I wasn’t ready to hear it again. The worst case scenario was the only thing in my mind.
Bad things happen to good people, I know so many amazing people, much better than me and they have cancer or have had traumatic things happen to them – why would I be spared?
This morning Kevin took me to the hospital and we sat in the same room he sat in 5 years ago waiting on my first ultrasound.
The nurse came back and called me into the same dark small room to do the ultrasound. It was déjà vu in the worst possible way.
My legs felt weak as I sat on the bed.
The tech asked if I had my entire thyroid removed before she started and I told her, “yes”.
I laid back and the ultrasound tech started.
It was all going well.
Then she asked, “you didn’t have the left side out did you?”
My heart stopped.
“Yes, I had it all removed. Nothing should be there.”
“The tumor was on the right side, right? Because I see tissue mass on the left.”
“No. The left.”
I could feel my anxiety rush up into my throat choking me.
I was thankful the room was dark enough to hide the tears running down my cheeks.
She took dozens and dozens of pictures.
She chatted away about the tissue she found. She placed markers and measurements with little notes and question marks around the tissue.
After she was done it took everything inside me to stand up, my mind felt like it was spinning.
After she pulled the curtain away she saw my face and tried to take back what she had said.
She put her arms on me and told me not to worry and asked if she could walk me back to the waiting room.
I walked into the crowded waiting room, everyone was staring at me.
Kevin looked up at me while wrestling Noah who was trying to toss his socks away and his eyes grew wide when they met mine and he let the socks fall to the floor.
I walked over, picked the socks up and asked if we could go.
I know Kevin said something but I couldn’t really hear anything.
We walked into the hallway and the nurse ran to Kevin apologizing for upsetting me. She said she shouldn’t have said anything and that she was sure I was fine, just that she saw something.
In front of the waiting room full of people she started saying things like, “at least it wasn’t a huge tumor, it could be nothing, if it is something at least we caught it early.”
The entire waiting room was wide eyed, the receptionist looked at the mess unfolding slack jawed.
Kevin politely asked her to stop talking and led me out of the hospital.
We reached the car and Kevin looked at me after buckling Noah into the car seat.
“This isn’t “it”. This isn’t the end all. She doesn’t know what she is talking about. It doesn’t matter if there is tissue there, it doesn’t matter what this scan says. You will be fine. There isn’t another option. Just know no matter what it takes, no matter how we get there you will be ok. You are going to grow old and gray with me, we made a deal. Nothing is breaking that up, not even cancer.”
Through the shock and numbing fear, his words cut through and I leaned into him and closed my eyes.
He kissed my forehead.
“You will be ok.”
I took a deep breath; I could feel my insides shaking.
And I willed my heart to believe him.
I hear Noah stirring. He is chirping and grunting at me to swoop him up and start our day.
My head feels heavy.
My eyes burn from crying.
Kevin hasn’t been home for hours having an early day at work but for some reason this moment feels lonelier than the hours before.
I get up, pushing the urge to lie back down and numb myself through sleep.
I see Noah, my heart smiles and aches at the same time.
Every time I feel happiness I feel a crushing dose of dread.
As if my brain is reminding me how much I have to lose.
I bring Noah into the living room and we watch the light change from darkness to cheery morning sunlight.
I feed him his breakfast; he eats enough for both of us.
I can’t stomach the idea of food.
I sit Noah in his play pin and he excitedly laughs and squeals while he pulls himself up and down on the sides.
I go to the mirror.
I look at my neck.
It looks the same as it did a week ago, a year ago, two years ago.
I see my scar and for the first time in 5 years think it is ugly. I have thought of it as a battle scar and now it is a crooked line cutting straight through my life. I was ok with being there because the process of getting it saved my life…now it is just there.
It is hard to believe could be something so horrible and deadly lying just beneath my skin in my own body…that my body created.
I can’t comprehend having this monster in my body and not doing something to get it out right now.
If I feel fat, I run.
If I feel tired, I sleep.
If I am hungry, I eat.
If I have a problem, I fix it.
I have cancer…..and now I wait?
Waiting is like a cancer on my thoughts and soul.
Its symptoms of what if’s and overwhelming dread make me feel like I have cancer.
There is laundry sitting on the dining room table.
It has been there for two days.
I think about letting it stay another.
I sort, fold and hang.
I feel like a robot.
Noah is done playing in his pack.
I pick him up and he squeezes his arms around my neck.
He pulls his face away from my neck and gives me a kiss.
He takes his mouth and puts it on mine and wiggles his mouth.
He has no idea what it means, just that I do it to him all the time.
It means so much to me.
In that moment I feel such deep love and happiness it is worth the fear that comes along right behind it.
Google and Web MD are no help.
Kevin says that he is going to parental control our computer so I stop looking up every “what if”.
I have read dozens of reports, studies and medical journal entries.
I review ultrasound pictures trying to mentally compare them in my mind to the one I had but my mind was panicked and I still have no idea what gray blob is to another gray blob.
I keep thinking how am I going to get to next week to hear the results.
After Noah’s breakfast I pack him into the jogging stroller.
I run hard.
I am not a runner.
I can’t run.
But for some reason I am running like I can.
I am hitting the pavement hard.
The shock of each step thuds my body.
I feel like I am punishing my body for possibly betraying me and doing something good for it at the same time.
I run for miles.
At some point I can’t breathe and I stop.
Even if I have cancer, it won’t have me.
I start to run again.
I think I am starting to feel somewhat normal.
Friends and family are asking how I am doing.
I don’t want to tell them because I don’t want to say the words.
I don’t even know what to say.
So I don’t say anything.
I have felt almost normal, maybe in denial the past few days.
Now the big day is tomorrow.
All I can think, “I’m not ready.”
I repeat to myself what a very wise friend shared with me today, “you can’t have faith and fear.”
I close my eyes and choose faith.
Today is the day.
I have been waiting all week for this day.
Now that it is here I don’t think I am ready for it.
I know I am not ready for it.
Kevin is at work.
Noah is being surprisingly easy and happy today. There is nothing to take my mind off my 3:10 appointment.
Time passes and Kevin pulls into the drive way.
He is here to take me to the appointment.
We sit in the waiting room, I am fidgeting more than Noah.
They call us back, I answer all the basic questions.
They take my blood pressure and the nurse puts her hand on my shoulder and tells me to calm down because my pulse is racing.
It feels like it takes forever for my doctor to come back.
Finally he walks in.
He sees Noah and lights up.
He sits down, goes over small talk.
I want to cry or throw up. The waiting is killing me.
I am clutching my list of questions I scribbled down.
He opens my chart.
Closes his hands and says.
“Your ultra sound was fine, take a deep breath.”
He smiled and continued, “The tech that told you they saw a mass was really out of line. We are 99% sure it is just scar tissue. I have no reason to think your cancer is back, lets order a CT scan and some more blood work to be sure. I really think you are going to be ok.”
“You had cancer so young, it is so sad. But you are going to come out of this on top.”
Kevin asked, “are you positive there was nothing to worry about on the scan?”
He again assured us both that it could be something but it is a very small chance that it is anything but scar tissue.
We left so happy.
There are very few times in my life that I have felt that amazing.
Because even in the best moments of your life, having a moment where you are told you won’t have to fight to not lose those things you hold so dear makes those moments real again. It feels like falling in love all over again, the magic of my wedding day and giving birth to Noah all in the second the doctor says I am in the clear.
I know there is still a chance something is there. I will still be scared going into the CT scan but I feel much better.
Cancer is so horrible.
Once you have had it, it is always there. Like my grandma said, “Dealing with cancer and the aftermath is so very hard on every one, it is always there, like the monster under the bed. Waiting to reach out and grab you when you least expect it.”
I know a part of me will always be scared, waiting for it to jump out and get me.
At the same time going through this gives me a kind of gratitude for the blessings in my life that I can’t put words to.
Maybe I wont ever really be able to really close this chapter in my life.
I wont however let cancer rule the rest of the chapters in my life.
I have way too many blessings to count to actually let cancer act as a cancer on my life.