Updated: Jul 17
I slept fairly well again last night and I’m a little surprised. As I wake, the reality of the day ahead begins to set in. Sometimes I have feelings that are harder to shake, and this morning is no exception.
Lately, when I'm asked what I see in my future, it’s hard for me to find an answer. I’m unsure why I can’t picture it. Denial? Avoidance? Flight response? When alone and pressed with my own thoughts, I realized I couldn’t see anything. My future was an empty void. What I saw was darkness. Was this it? Was this all the universe had planned for me? My kids! Was I not meant to have a future? My life cut woefully short when I felt like I’d only just had a taste? This likelihood was so overwhelmingly tangible. ‘No future’ hung around my neck like a millstone, threatening to drown me without a second thought.
I'm done with my shower and, sitting on the corner of my bed, I dried my hair. It's Friday. I have two more days of work and am anticipating a long deluge of chemo side effects: nausea, fatigue, pain, hair loss, constipation and diarrhea, restless legs, weight loss. Ok, that last one I think I can handle. I’m feeling that wave of panic again. I slip my amethyst ring onto my finger, I contemplate it, searching for some reassurance. The ring, a symbol of strength, I inherited from my mother. I’ve been wearing it constantly since this ordeal started.
“Mom, I love you and I really miss you, but it’s not the time for a reunion just yet; I have too much to do. Please allow me to stay just a little longer... at least until my boys are adults. If that’s too much, maybe just their next birthdays? I love my life! I’m not ready to see it go just yet. Please, just give me a little longer. The bargaining continues. Can it be in my lungs or colon? Don’t let it be in my brain or bones, those are just too hard to eradicate. Ok, if it’s in my bones, just let it be a small bone. Something I’m not too attached to? They can take those! I’ll barely miss them. I can live and be totally normal with a missing finger or two. Maybe I’ll call myself Deadpool. That will make the boys giggle...It’s too soon!
“If it is my time then I will make the best of it. I will give as much as I can. I can’t be angry, I can’t waste my time or energy on anger. Please help me with that.
“Mom, take the anger and sadness. Please, will you just take it?”
The box returns to do its job, and I continue with my morning routine. It hasn’t fully closed this time, like an over-packed suitcase that refuses to latch. So I carry that uneasy feeling out the door, and begin my workday.
I can’t focus on my tasks, I can’t hear my patients when they speak. My head is buzzing, full, it’s as if everyone is trying to speak to me underwater. I am simply going through rote motions. Lift your leg, stretch this rubber band, balance on one leg, march in place. Blah, blah, blah. My nerves feel raw and I feel uncomfortable in my body. I walk through my morning in a fog. It’s 9:55 AM and I’m in between patients, driving towards the next home. I pull into a derelict parking lot along my route. The telehealth call from my oncologist is scheduled for 10:00. It’s the longest five minutes of my life.
10:01, and DH pops up on the phone. I labeled it this time.
“Lyane?” I hear my oncologist. “I have good news for you for once! Your scans were negative. Nothing else is there that we can see. Your heart is strong, your blood work is great. We are ready to go!”
It was as if someone had pulled the plug out of my head, allowing all the fluid to drain. The words were crystal clear and they were the best ducking words I could ever have hoped for! I could breathe again! My laser focus returned, but this realization could not keep uncontrolled sobs at bay. My body shook as I cried tears of joy, of thankfulness and gratitude. I cried tears of relief. I cried tears from the pain I didn’t even know was inside me. I was thankful for some anonymity in my small parking lot as a flood of emotion poured out. I took these few moments to process this beautiful truth, to calm my body and my mind, before I informed my trusted five.
I can barely text the words through a new wave of fresh tears.
“OMG!! I can’t say this enough! My scans were all clean! There is nothing anywhere else! Nothing that they can see anyway.”
I realize my phone has been quiet all morning, but now the texts come flying back. Apparently they’ve been on pins and needles too but knew better than to share their anxiety with me. I love my trusted five; they understand me.
“I’m so happy right now! Yay! Yay! Yay!”
“I just burst into tears!”
“You just made my day!”
“OMG! OMG! OMG! I'm ecstatic!”
“Bout time you didn't excel!”
“Well, maybe I'm just excelling at beating the odds!” I reply. Yes, I'm gonna go with that one! The oncologist had seemed just as surprised at the results. I make a mental note to ask my doctor just how bad my pathology results were just to feel invincible!
Onto the haircut ceremony! I have four friends coming over to help celebrate this occasion. I was so thankful to be able to shift my focus. One former hairdresser and three coworkers. Saying goodbye to my very curly, thick, long hair needs to be ‘ceremonialized’. And you know what? I’m not even worried or sad about it. There’s nothing that can derail me from this high!