So I saw my oncologist today for my 6-week check-up. I was expecting it to be a nice little ‘here’s what’s happening’ and ‘goodbye & congrats’ session. It pretty much was. I went through a rundown of my symptoms and she asked me questions and updated my profile in her computer.
Then she told me she had seen my abnormal EEG results and asked what my neurologist was doing as a ‘next step’. I told her about the MRI I had at the end of last week and said that I had an appointment with the neurologist tomorrow and that I expected to discuss the results with her then. Since my oncologist and neurologist share a hospital and a computer system, she was able to pull up a 1 sentence blurb taken from the full report.
It mentioned a brain lesion. But I guess that could mean a few different things — and that it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a brain met (metastasis). But thinking of this in the context of the abnormal EEG, my mind can’t help but “go there.” For more detail, I’ll have to wait for tomorrow’s appointment. I kind of wish she hadn’t brought it up. But I’m sure she wanted to see what the preliminary report had to say at least. You see, she was headed out on maternity leave after my appointment today and I won’t see her again until February.
So we finished the appointment with a quick exam and a discussion of who will be covering me and what her plans are for me during her leave.
I hugged her, told her (honestly) how happy I was for her, and handed her a card and a wrapped box containing a lovely little pink dress, a dress I had actually purchased for the baby girl I was hoping to have before all of this began. Of course I did not share this last bit of information with her. Nor did I not mention that she had become a part of my routine and that I am grateful for her role in killing my cancer. And I certainly did not tell her that I will miss her while she was away.
And I did not mention the “what if” that crept into my consciousness as we hugged and I realized that I would not be seeing her for 1/3 of a year. But I knew it was there.
I thought about a couple of women I had come to “know” through their posts about breast cancer. They both learned that their cancers had returned a couple of months ago. But they were still hopeful.
And now they are gone. They died. A few months ago they thought they were doing fine. And mere weeks later, they are gone.
I wish I could say these lovely women were the first people I had heard of this happening to. The first people who have had their cancers return or progress this quickly or aggressively. But, sadly, I cannot. Not at all. You just never know with this disease.
I try not to think about the possibility of this happening in the context of my own life/death. And most of the time I don’t.
But I am only human. And at times like these, at times when I hear of sudden losses and the fragility of life hits me like a slap in the face, or when I can’t help but wonder if maybe that nagging pain or that headache that won’t go away is “something,” it is difficult not to let these thoughts creep in in the quiet space of a dark night.
As I walked out to schedule my next appointment, not with the oncologist I had come to trust and rely upon, but with one of her colleagues, I thought about how much could change in the 4 months she would be gone.
Of course a great deal will be changing for her. She will be bringing a new life into this world, expanding her family, and doing and experiencing all of the things that are associated with that.
And I… Well, I will be trying not to die.