That’s what the orthopedic surgeon said, at my follow up appointment for the never ending saga of the running injury.
He could have been speaking chinese. I had no idea what he was talking about. Clueless, table of 1.
“What’s an evil doctor?” I asked… fearing some medical speciality that involved torture devices.
“An Orthopedic Oncologist. What we see here could be several things… including cancer.”
At which point my brain shut down. I have no idea what else he said. I was expecting surgical options. I was expecting to leave his office in a cast or brace. I was not expecting to be sent to an oncologist.
I remember them saying they’d make all the arrangements… and the word “arrangements” sounded way to funeral-esque for my mind. I left feeling hollow and afraid.. and trying to figure out how to tell my husband…
I went with the “remain calm sound like you’re in control so he won’t freak.” method. The bummer is, he knows that trick. The more calm I sound- the worse the news I’m about to tell him is. After 22 years of marriage, he knows this.
On the way home, I went to the bookstore for a cupcake. ( I was desperate, besides, if I had cancer- I figured a cupcake wouldn’t exactly be my biggest problem…)
The cupcake counter was empty. There were ZERO cupcakes to be found. I felt tears well up in my eyes… and that’s when it hit me: “The doctor thinks I may have cancer.”
I spent the weekend feeling PTSD’ish about all things cancer and medical. Everything made me feel panicky and teary eyed. We plowed through the weekend reminding ourselves that
1) God is in control, and not surprised buy this and
2) We don’t know what we’re dealing with and can’t get ahead of the facts.
I had visions of needles and chemo and drills and biopsies and bald heads and peg legged- pirate moms… (I figured the worst case would be I’d end up bald and one legged. Which- I would not like, but could deal with….. Dying was not an option. I love God and all.. but I’m not ready to go there. I have stuff to do, here yet- like finish that book!)
I do not want to leave my children, especially my youngest -motherless. The kid still can’t hit the toilet….when he pees. He needs training! (Well- ok so do the rest of them.. but I digress.)
Monday, the hospital called to confirm my appointment with the oncologist. My stomach flopped at hearing the very word. “Oncologist.” I was sure I would vomit when they told us the appointment would be at the Cancer Center. I didn’t. Probably because I haven’t wanted to eat much. (Besides cupcakes- my go to comfort food.)
Thoughts flooded my brain like the Nashville flood… they were equally invasive and destructive…
“I might have cancer, I don’t have cancer. I might die. I won’t die. I don’t want to lose my leg. I could live without my leg. I’m glad I have God to count on. I’ll be angry at you god, if I have cancer. I’ll finish the book if you let me live…We’ll get through this no matter what… IF I have to die- I WILL die well…Why me? Why not me? What if I have cancer? What if I don’t and they do nothing and I’m still in pain?”
I have been through all the phases of grief a hundred times since Friday.
All of which is normal. And sucks.
I told the people we felt needed to know. Friends who would pray and keep us calm. My parents..cause well.. I’d smack them if they were going through this and didn’t tell me… It’s hard to tell your parents that you may have cancer. I wanted to play it down… but I wanted them to be able to prepare if it was. It’s awful to tell your college kids that you may have cancer. But, we wanted them to see the process of struggling with God and trusting. We told the youngest nothing. Because- well- he didn’t need to know unless we KNEW something, for sure.
This morning the fearful reality culminated in “The Evil Doctor” visit. Pulling up to the Cancer Center sucked. In the elevator, I told my husband: “I want to go home.” We didn’t.
The elevator, stopped. at. every. floor.
Everywhere I looked I saw cancer patients. I struggled not to cry.
We filled out [lame] paperwork together. I couldn’t remember the date. THAT almost made me cry.
Fortunately, they called us back in just a few minutes. To say I had ants in mah pants would be putting it mildly. It was more like armadillos. I’d have paced.. if I could have:(
An intern came in and asked how I was… “I feel like I’m going to throw up and I don’t want to be here.” Was my very classy 4 yr old like answer. Then, I verbally vomited the last few months of pain-filled experience all over his shoes. I then, promptly gave him my self diagnosis and silently begged he’d concur. I also apologized for the tears and clarified that while I knew my response was “normal” I wanted to apologize for it anyway.
He excused himself to take a look at my file, (I may have scared him off.) MRI’s and x-rays and said he’d bring the Oncologist in, when he was done. My super sonic hearing (not- I have a hearing loss) kicked in and I thought every word I heard mumbled through the door was about me. They didn’t sound good.
I tweeted. I checked my email. I knit on an entrelac lace project. “I don’t think I have cancer.” I told my husband. “I don’t think so either.” he said… we each tried to convince the other it would be ok.
“knock. knock.” And in came the Oncologist and the intern. She’ didn’t look evil. She looked rather normal. I liked her instantly.
She asked me hard questions about exactly how much I’ve done since the injury occurred.
Finally she said what we’d so very much hoped…. “You don’t have cancer. You have stress fractures. We have 2 options: you can completely rest it for 4-12 weeks and then we can see if it’s healing. (It’s already been 13 weeks…) Zero weight bearing- almost impossible for a mom. Or, we can put a rod , plate and some screws in and you will need crutches, but will be able to walk. Should be back to normal in about 4-6 weeks.”
“I don’t have cancer?” (Apparently I needed to hear it again.)
I almost peed myself with relief.
We talked about scarring and the feasibility of actual bed rest. We decided to go with option B. I will be having surgery on Tuesday. On a normal day? That would have been awful news… today? I’m thrilled.
This leg is going to get better. The pain will end. And I don’t have cancer…..
But every single day- all over the world, moms like me have scares and near cancer misses, just like this. Some find out they do have cancer…. and they get through it.. or they die well…. as I ask for your continued prayers… I ask you to also join me in praying for them.. the survivors.. their surviving families.. and those lost… cancer sucks. Being told you may have cancer sucks too. It’s scary… but— if it’s happened or happening to you.. you’re not alone.
There are other women out here facing it with you… and we’re praying for you.
Dear Lord— I pray for all the moms/women that are hearing today that they may have cancer. I pray that you’d bring them peace and get them through. I pray that they’d know that all the feelings and fears are normal.. and they still: suck. I pray for your healing- your wisdom and your peace… no matter what their diagnosis. Help them know they are not alone… in Jesus name.. amen.. oh and Lord? Please make this surgery go well. and bring me relief from all this pain… Let me dance and run again soon- I love you Lord- amen.
A friend gave me this verse this week.. and it’s been what I’ve been going back to… I hope it brings you peace too-
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Which- since I’m having surgery Tuesday.. I’ll be doing a lot of…. :P