When my father was dying of cancer, he said to me one day in the hospital, “I know what is happening, but I can’t deal with it so I’m not going to talk about it.” Not talking about it was his way forward.
It’s been fifteen years since he’s been gone and I continue to be impressed with his outlook on his life and death.
This spring and early summer I had a little health scare myself. I went to the doctor with symptoms which led me to believe I just had an infection of some sort and I just needed to get a prescription to take care of it.
I’d been putting off the visit for weeks but a dream I had lit a fire under me and got me to make the appointment.
Imagine my dismay when the doctor and his nurse kept referring to my situation as an emergency and ordered several tests because they thought I had cancer.
They didn’t say out loud that they really believed I had cancer, but their body language and facial expressions led me to believe that they really thought my tests would come back malignant.
Every emotion went through me in just a few moments.
I began mentally kicking myself for waiting so long to make an appointment. Years ago my father had made me promise that I would always go to my checkups because his sister hadn’t and she ended up dying from ovarian cancer. I had skipped my annual exam for nearly two years. So, yes, I was really kicking myself for being so lax.
The tests were not bad in and of themselves. I’d had most of them before as a precaution. But this time I had actual symptoms.
No, it was the waiting that was bad. Five days of being absolutely convinced that I would be getting very bad news and that I had done this to myself.
My thoughts put me in a very deep and lonely hole.
I ran through every scenario possible including having to tell people.
I hated the idea of telling my youngest son. We are close and that would just break my heart into pieces having to be the one to break his heart.
My oldest son is estranged from us. How in the world would I handle that conversation?
I thought I could handle other aspects of the situation with information. So I went online to research what they thought I had, and I immediately had to back out of the search and set that idea aside. A one-minute-search told me what I might be dealing with and I couldn’t handle it and would not be talking about it any more.
The first few days of waiting, we kept ourselves busy. That worked to distract me for awhile but it was very wearing.
I told my husband I had never been this scared before in my entire life.
I also told him I was officially cured of any suicidal tendencies that might still be lurking in my mind.
Some quote about “looking into the abyss and it looking back at you” kept popping into my thoughts as well.
How did my father ever get through sixteen months of knowing he had lung cancer? I remember how he dealt with it on the surface. But how did he manage the thoughts during the quiet times? He was brave, that’s what I think, but also very sad.
The morning of the sixth day I got my results back and there was no malignancy found. Pure relief! Huge gratitude! And I promised myself to never again let symptoms slide for weeks on end.
Mentally and emotionally I have felt very subdued since then. It was a formative event in my life, a turning point, so I suppose my energy has gone toward recovery and re-learning who I am now. And writing is a lot of work that takes a lot of energy, hence the silence in my blog.
Now I’ll see if writing it all out will lift some of the burden of this event. I hope so, because life is short and very precious, and I want to make the most of this life that I have.