I had more doctor appointments this week. I’ve been blessed so far, but my mind wanders to the negative. Why are we at our most creative, when it comes to imagining the worst possible outcomes?
Although I hate going through all of this, my analytical side is fascinated by the tests, the methodology, and the treatments of breast cancer. I am shocked because so much of what I thought I knew, and what I’ve been taught, has been wrong. I am certainly learning.
On Monday, I met with the radiation oncologist. Her name was Candice and she looked nothing like her name implied. She was thin, short and rather plain, with a long nose, and straight mousy brown hair. She seemed annoyed by me as I interrupted her with questions as we discussed my case. Her Associate Professor nametag indicated she was used to doing all the talking. Well, I’m not a fresh-faced med school student, and I gently, amusedly, assumed control in the conversation. This is my health we’re talking about, and I wasn’t going to sit there, listen to her and keep my mouth shut. Gradually, I think she realized my questions were valid and not the confused questions of the elderly or the hysterical.
Despite her initial lack of “bedside manners,” I must say I greatly appreciated her blunt, no-nonsense explanations and her planned approach to my situation. It was her job to educate me regarding my future radiation treatments. I imagine it gets old for her, repeating the same things over and over. She was factual, detailed and thorough, and gave me more answers than any other doctor thus far. Reflecting back, maybe her straightforward personality was a lot more like mine, than I’d care to admit.
Edit: After all my treatments were over, she ended up being the best, most thorough and caring of all my doctors. She gave me the information straight up and undiluted and she also took the time to teach me about my cancer treatments in detail, as if I were one of her students. First impressions aren’t always final.
On Wednesday afternoon, I arrived for my scheduled MRI, which was to be done to see if my cancer was elsewhere in the breasts. As I sat in the MRI waiting room, an elderly lady walked out of the MRI room with blood dripping all over her. It was on her clothes, arms, legs and heavy droplets plopped onto her boots and then dribbled down to the floor. She seemed amused by it all, and I quipped to her: “Is this what they’re going to do to me next?” She laughed and said this is what she gets as punishment for it being her 75th birthday. It turns out she was on blood thinners and so the typical Band-Aid wasn’t enough to stop the bleeding from her I.V. site. There was a bit of a commotion as they got her bleeding under control and then it was my turn for the MRI.
In advance of the test, the machine designer within me tried imagining how they’d do an MRI on the breasts, and amusingly enough, I was correct. I had to lay belly-down on a ramp of sorts… with two holes in it. Then, I had to position my hands above my head on the table, ballerina-style. I couldn’t help but giggle. It was all just so funny and awkward, maybe a little demeaning too. They inserted an I.V. line for a contrast to be administered halfway through, and it would make my mouth taste funny. Into the tube I went, and the hard part was lying still. They put headphones on me to help distract me and drown out the noise. Comfortingly enough, Miracle by Unspoken was playing.
I had forgotten how loud an MRI is, and it startled me at first. My body started to cramp up as I tried to hold still, and the holey-boob-ramp-thingy started to dig into my sternum and armpits. I focused on counting my breaths to help pass the time. After a half hour had passed, we were finally done. I was so stiff from staying in one place, I could barely move, my body had locked up. I hope I don’t have to do that again, but it may become a yearly test for me, since a mammogram hadn’t detected my cancer. The designer in me is already trying to think of a way do this, lying on one’s back instead.
They told me someone would call Thursday or Friday with the results. Thursday came and went, no call. Friday the loooooooongggg hours ticked by. Finally, around two O’clock I could stand it no more. I called for my results. I got transferred no less than 4 times and finally I got a lady who spoke with an oriental accent and she told me my results were in, but the doctor had to give them to me. I questioned “The doctor has to give them to me? Does this mean it’s bad news?” “Yes, you have nice day.” She replied and hung up.
I didn’t get upset. I continued to work, trusting God has this handled. About a half hour later I got a call from the doctor’s office. I jokingly asked the nurse if she was going to wreck another Friday for me. She laughed and said she had good news. Oh?! She said “Let me read to you exactly what the doctor has written down. There is no additional cancer, other than the known location.”
Yaaaaaayyyyyy! I am thankful for every small victory. My family went up north snowmobiling again, and I don’t know how I would have coped with more bad news alone. I am still not out of the woods yet, I need my lymph nodes to come up clear after surgery. So still, I wait, and wait.
Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. Psalm 27:14