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I have a bigger problem than I thought

Updated: Jul 7, 2020

“Have fun on your tour of the DH facilities! I hear that the tour is an interactive experience. Just don’t touch the tour guides too much, or they’ll complain to HR.” I’m reading Jenn Larsen’s text as I wake in the morning.

I ready myself for the day. The gravity of my situation is all too present in my waking mind, but I’m trying to keep it light. It’s been difficult to keep everything in the box this time.

The past three days have truly tested my resolve. Talk of “metastasis”, “extensive lymphovascular invasion”, “moderately aggressive growth” seem to lift off the page of the pathology report. Sam, in his love for analytics, is going over the details, keeping very quiet, only responding with the occasional raised eyebrow. Finally, he says

“Just remember, honey, be it one cell or one-million, it’s all the same. The chemo will do the job. That’s its purpose—carpet-bombing your body. You stay focused on your meditation and controlling what you can. Love your body, and be grateful it is working with you to fix the problem. Stay away from negative thoughts.”

These words set me back on track.

“Now there is something we should talk about. Something you can control. Your living will.”

Deep breath. This isn’t good. But he’s right. These are important and necessary decisions that I never thought I would have to make at 47. I’m immediately on the phone with my lifelong bestie, Jenni Ling, and tell her to pull the plug if necessary. I assure myself I am not going to need this, but just in case.

“Does that mean anytime I want?” she says with a chuckle, trying to stay in my mandatory ‘silver-lining-spin-no-matter-what’ mindset! I love my sister from another mother!

Feeling my tension and sadness over the phone from 1500 miles away, she quietly says, “I’m here for you, sister—always, in any way you need me.” With that, I take a moment to collect myself, and hang up the phone.

The 90 minute ride to the hospital is quiet. My head is spinning and I’m desperately compartmentalizing my situation once again. It’s hard, but I manage small talk with Sam, revisiting Quinn’s birthday party yesterday, which we pulled off with great success (even in quarantine)! A car parade by the house, a socially distant cake-sesh with a few friends on the deck, and eighteen gifts for his 18th birthday! I know the microwaveable bowl and travel bag of medications for university were his favorites! I’m content to linger on this good memory until we arrive at the hospital.

My day consisted of an Echo, bloodwork, bone and CT scans. The works! I’m relieved when it’s finally over and done with—another day of testing conquered! The DH tour also goes quite well, thanks in due part to the helpful guides. Some of them even pronounced my name correctly! (I suspect they were having bets on the pronunciation before we met!) I decided to skip the COVID-19 exhibit. It’s a bit too fresh these days, so I’ll save it for another time.

I return home, exhausted both mentally and physically. Will I sleep tonight? That depends on how well I can tuck this away—back into the box. I did my part. The rest I have no control over.

Tomorrow, a call with the oncologist to discuss results. I need to let go...

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