Later on that day, my doctor's office calls back, and tells me I am being referred to a surgeon, and my appointment is Tuesday, September 1st.
The very worst part of this experience is the waiting. You think you have cancer, but you have to have your tests to prove it. They do them, then you wait for the results. They show probable cancer, and you need more tests. You wait, then they confirm cancer. Then you wait for doctors, for more tests, for more results, for staging, for surgeries. During all of this, you can't make final plans, you just....wait....
The unknown is the worst. If you know you have cancer, but don't know anything else, your mind takes you to dark places. And back. One second, you are thinking, "Oh, I'm fine, it'll be nothing, a blip on the roadmap of life" and the next second you are giving old people the finger because they get to have a long life and you don't.
And, you notice physical things more. I have had a nagging dry cough for weeks. I probably wouldn't have paid any attention to it before the big C, at most it would have been a mild annoyance. Now, of course, it's cancer metastasized. And, what is that pain in my arm? Is cancer in my bones too?
For me, waiting for the surgeon's appointment, life felt like it stopped for a while. I did everything I was supposed to, but in the back of my brain was a big, flashing, pink neon sign screaming "CANCER!" I couldn't turn that darn thing off no matter how much I tried, and I'm sure if the Green Police looked in my eyes they'd have busted me and made me buy carbon offset credits.
My lowest point was Sunday. My husband had gone to SF to see a baseball game with his daughter, and my son and I had planned a day together. We were going to go out to lunch, then buy him some school clothes, do a few other errands, and then go out to dinner at Boudins, where you can get clam chowder in a bread bowl, his favorite.
I felt like I was in a fog that morning and couldn't imagine leaving the house or even my bed. But, having a kid means you don't really get to wallow so up I got and off we went.
He wanted taco bell for lunch, and as I ate my taco I glared at a woman with her grandchild. Sure, SHE gets to buy her grandchild crap food, which will probably end up giving the kid cancer, and I'll never get to see my grandchildren. I wonder if I should go shopping for baby clothes anyway? I mean, I can put them in a box for my future grandchildren I'll never meet. Baby clothes don't really go out of style, do they? Why should I miss out on the fun of spoiling my grandchild? While my brain is swirling in darkness, I'm smiling and chatting with my son about computers, video games and school.
Then we went to a mall and bought him some shorts. We went to Brookstone, where I bought an external battery pack for my iPhone for all those chemo infusions that I knew would be worthless since my cancer has already spread and I'm going to die. At least I'll be able to play Stone Loops for six hours straight before I leave this mortal coil. We looked at some live little frogs encased in a tiny plastic case that are supposed to be easy to care for - just drop a pellet through the hole once a day and that's it. I know how that frog in a box felt. Powerless, trapped, waiting for the next pellet drop.
We went to the bookstore to get him To Kill a Mockingbird for school, and I peruse the cancer section. We buy a puzzle to put together later, and I take him to Gamestop to buy a video game he's been wanting. My son got cheated - he's got a mom with cancer, he deserves a video game.
Then we walk by Teavana, and I decide to buy some tea. It will taste good when I'm sick and it's healthy for you. I don't see any Liptons, so I look through their catalog and read this line: "Research indicates that white tea may inhibit the growth of certain forms of cancer."
Certain forms of cancer? What forms? Prostate? Breast? Hmmm....should I buy some of that kind of cancer-removing tea? What if it only cures, oh, say Bladder cancer? But, I read further and see that it says it's "excellent for skin by reducing fine lines and wrinkles." Okay, maybe I can look a bit better in my coffin, so I decide to buy some white tea.
I go pick out one of their tins to fill with tea and a mug with a removable infuser, and the sales guy is heavily upselling me. I thought I was resisting - no, I don't want the bigger one, no I don't want this....my son pulls me aside as the salesman starts scooping tea into the tin, and he says, "Mom, that's going to be really expensive."
I mentioned before that my son is excellent at math. I didn't mention that I'm very Barbie-like. "Math is hard." I think it's under control, the tea is $15.00, right? The mug is another $15.00. No biggie. The guy rings me up.
Okay, I really am bad at math. But, it's packed and boxed and hey, it could cure my cancer, right? What if I die because I put back that tea? I pull out my card and pay, and off we go.
First time I ever got fleeced. That's what cancer does to you.
We did have a nice dinner at Boudins - we sat outside and I had a tomato sandwich and a beer (which I know could cause those cancer cells to multiply faster but what the heck, I'm going to die anyway) and my son had his soup. We sat outside and enjoyed the weather, and despite my dark thoughts, it was a very good day. I was glad I got up and out.
Ask any cancer patient and I'll bet they tell you the same thing. Waiting is worse then knowing. Ask me, and I'll tell you to get up and out anyway, no matter how dark things seem. You'll feel better.