she said to me.
“Yes, I have,” I answered, wiping the tears away from my eyes. “She” is Dr. Smart Cookie, our family therapist. She and I were talking without Nate in the room. Frank wasn’t at this appointment, simply because by the time I realized that he was teaching a class when we were scheduled to meet with her, it was kind of late to re-schedule so Nate and I went without Frank. First Nate and I talked with Dr. SC and then she wanted to talk with me alone.
You seem kind of “funny,” she said.
Of course I kind of brushed it off at first. It was this, it was that. It was a lot of different things. And it probably was a combination of things, but the crux of the matter was that it was fear. Fear because I had some symptoms that had my oncologist set up an appointment for me with a GI Dr., and set it up for as soon as she could. In fact, they had a cancellation for today so I saw him after our appointment with Dr. SC.
I used to be blase about my health, but I can’t anymore. It’s probably just hemorrhoids, but I have to get it checked, and it scares me that it may be something else . . . . . I didn’t know this until the beginning of Aug. when my sister, J. was staying with me, but when my dad died of secondary liver cancer, apparently every organ that they tested was positive for cancer. I knew that the pancreas tested positive, but I didn’t know that the colon also tested positive for cancer. They stopped testing at one point, and I completely understand that. There was no point in him going through anymore pain. But at this point, I really wish they had done an autopsy, for the four of us children to know what to look for.
I cried and expressed my fears. She understood. I talked about how people can minimize things, how some people, when tests turn out to be negative, like to say “I told you so” (sorry if you’re reading this, C., but I hate that) and how dismissive that can be. How I know intellectually that it will probably not be anything serious but that doesn’t take away from the gut-level fear simply because I do have a serious illness that really could spread. Has it? Probably not. But I have to get this checked. In the old days, I may have ignored this for awhile. These days? No way. The problem is that these days, I go into this fear overdrive mode because I do have this life-threatening disease. Talk to anyone who has metastatic cancer and I’m sure they would understand. Or anyone who has a serious form of cancer, for that matter, and I’m sure they would understand. It’s a normal reaction, especially when this is all still so new to me.
New? After eight months? Of course it is. I’m still fighting the fight, after all.
Yes, I’ve lost something. I’ve lost the innocence that a simple medical question can cause. The innocence of a simple “Oh, I should get this checked out, but it’s probably OK.” The truth is, when I say things like that, I don’t really mean them. I’m saying them to reassure myself as much as anyone else. The truth is that I’m really very frightened. I may know intellectually that it’s probably nothing to worry about, but emotionally, I’m terrified.
I saw the GI Dr. today, another very kind Dr. who talked to me briefly and basically said:
You know this means that you need a colonoscopy. I’m not even going to do a rectal exam today. I’ll do that when you’re sleeping for the colonoscopy and it will be easier on you. I think there’s a 90/95% chance that this is hemorrhoids, but with your history [meaning my having metastatic cancer], we need to check it out.
When he took my history and I told him about my father having cancer in his colon, he said, “all the more reason to check it out.”
Most likely, this will rule out cancer in the colon, but once again, better safe than sorry.
I’m just sorry that I’ve lost the ability to be rational and calm about these tests.
Dr. SC said it best.
I’ve lost something.
I wonder if it’s something that
I’ll ever get back.
Cross-posted to Just Enjoy Him.