It dawned on me today that this week starts another parade of doctor’s appointments. I see Dr. L this Wednesday to talk reconstruction. I see Dr. D on Thursday, which I’d completely forgotten until I checked my calendar today and saw an appointment note for Thursday. I don’t even remember why I have an appointment with Dr. D. Then, next week, on the 17th, I see Dr. O for the first time since February.
I’m nervous about seeing Dr. O. I’ve purposely not told A when my next appointment is because I don’t want him to go. This is a crazy time of year for him at work. He’s under a lot of stress right now. So, I’m not reminding him. I have questions for Dr. O I don’t want A there to hear.
I want to ask about the urgency on the oophrecotomy…can it be delayed until December since I’m on Lupron? How high is my chance of reoccurrence? See, once upon a time, back in September, before surgery in February, the odds were in my favor. The chance of reoccurrence was around 10%. That was before surgery. Before the ER+ cancer was found. Before it was found in my lymph nodes. I know what Google says. My chance of reoccurrence is as high as 60% according to decently reputable websites. I want to know what Dr. O has to say. I know I’m high risk for reoccurrence since I didn’t have a pathological complete response to neoajduvant TCHP. How high? I know Dr. O isn’t a fortune teller, but she’s one of the best for a reason. I want her to talk to me, honestly and bluntly, which she’s always done, and I trust her to do.
I know I’m not doing anything to truly help stop my cancer from coming back. I’ve begun drinking Dr. Pepper again…not nearly as much as I did pre-cancer, but I drink it. I don’t eat well. I don’t avoid stress. I play the what if and why me games. I don’t exercise more than walking around at my work. I’m tired. When I get home, I want to rest. So, if it comes back, is it my fault? It seems like it’d be…
On Facebook, Humans of New York is doing a series on pediatric cancer patients and treatment at Sloan Kettering. It’s gut wrenching to see, to read. On one of the posts, the mother asked what she had done because there’s nothing her daughter had done to deserve what she was going through with cancer. The replies on the post were overwhelmingly things like you did nothing, cancer is a horrible disease, cancer happens with no rhyme or reason. It was refreshing to read those kind of responses because they’re true, and when I feel the what ifs and why me creeping up, I have to remember, cancer is a disease. Cancer happens. A cell misfires. That’s it. Sure, there are some definitive causes…you smoke, you risk lung cancer…sunburns raise your risk of skin cancer…colon polyps could become colon cancer. We know these facts, but ultimately? Cancer is a cell gone haywire. I didn’t do anything to deserve this or cause this. It happened. Now, I live with the fear of what if it comes back because I struggle to believe it’s gone or won’t come roaring back.
A few weeks ago, my students read and analyzed Emily Dickinson’s “Pain has an Element of Blank.” Tonight, I keep coming to Dickinson’s “Hope is the Thing With Feathers.” Hope is fleeting and flitting. It stands sturdy on some branches and wavers on others. The wind tumbles it. It storm drowns it. The water rolls off it. It endures until it doesn’t. There are days when it feels like it’ll never come back.
Yet, it does.