5/12, the day that made me realize the gravity of my situation.
I’m driving my daily grind when I receive a call from the hospital. I’m under the assumption that its only concern will be answering my medication question: ‘since I’m waiting a month to have surgery, should I restart the Tamoxifen?’ Originally it was used as a deterrent for the cancer cells, so it makes sense to start back up again, right?
I pull over. I have time between patients, and the cell service is good.
No pleasantries. “Did you find out about the Tamoxifen?” I ask.
Her response was like the glass of iced water my mother used to threaten us with when we didn’t get out of bed in the morning for school.
“Lyane, the plan has slightly changed. Chemo starts in a week. We don't want to wait anymore. You have scans scheduled for the end of this week and we will determine your situation by Friday so we can prepare your chemo treatment appropriately.”
“Woah, Nellie! What about the chemo port? I’m starting chemo next week? Can I still work? How long am I receiving chemo?”
I feel the panic growing exponentially. Deep breath, stay calm; grab something to write this down. My inner monologue has started, and there’s no way I’m going to remember any of this conversation without deliberate effort.
As I regain control, my tone changes; my voice is slow and deliberate. I learned this skill while dealing with anxious people throughout my life. It’s an effective way to de-escalate a situation—maybe even if I’m using it on myself.
I try that question again, “How long is chemo?”
“Eight two-week cycles.”
“Can I work at all?”
I hear a little surprise in her voice. “This dosage is pretty intense and frequent. Your immunity will be significantly compromised, and with the pandemic on the rise, your job as a homecare PT is at a very high risk. So, no, you can’t work.”
Holy shit! No work for four months! Can I manage that? What am I going to do with myself? I guess it’s time to talk to HR at work and make a plan.
I take a few deep breaths and wipe away a lone tear. This was not part of the plan. It’s changing out from under me again. Just as I had begun to accept this reality, when I thought I could see that silver-lining—wham! The universe has a much different scenario in store. First, my tumor is playing hide and go seek, now the chemo is starting even earlier. Why the change?
I take a moment and another deep breath. Tell myself, “Lyane, this is not the time, you have patients to see. Wrap this up in a box and put in the back of your head... you have patients that need you.”
The drive home is always therapeutic; just what I need to kick it into high gear! Wednesday: Quinn’s quarantined 18th birthday, Thursday: day of testing at the hospital, Friday: first haircut. I guess I’ll need to talk to HR tomorrow.
As my mind unwraps the box from earlier, the reality sets in. Maybe this situation is not as simple as I thought. Maybe these scans are merely to get a baseline. I guess they're already anticipating more. I'm letting this all sink in.