CONFESSION: LONG, WORDY POST. Sorry guys, this one is more for me than for you. Just something I needed to document. So, you won't hurt my feelings, at all, if you leave a comment saying, "Enough with the cancer already!"
Hi! Tonight I sat down to blog, and I started thinking about each one of you. I thought, "I wish we could just all sit down together and chat." Wouldn't that be fun? Anyway, that led me to snap a quick photo with Photo Booth, so that you can at least sit down with me tonight. Truthfully, I rarely read blogs without pictures. I LOVE pictures! I want to see people living their lives, not just read about it. Maybe my imagination isn't creative enough to visualize, but I think a picture truly is worth a thousand words. So, there ya go. Here's a picture for those of you who are like me. For my own benefit, I should've taken one at 6AM when my makeup and hair were fresh as daisies and my body was restored after a night of rest. But instead, you're getting reality - a day after 2nd grade and housework!
On my brief lunch break today, I ran to the cancer center, which is conveniently located about 30 seconds from my school, to pick up my second round of chemo pills. I've already downed a whole bottle! And, with no significant side effects!
Anyway, as I parked my car in the dark garage and entered the building, the familiar smell quickly hit me in the face. It's an odor that I'll never forget, and never favor. I walked with purpose down the long, barren hallway until I reached the cancer pharmacy. I guess they have to have their very own pharmacy to stock the drugs that no healthy person would be desperate enough to take. I waited. And waited. And waited for about five minutes or so as no one seemed to notice that they had a customer waiting at the window. I didn't mind the wait, other than the fact that I was crunched for time. The teaching profession isn't known for its leisurely lunches.
It wasn't so much the wait that struck me in this situation. It was the lady in her early 50s who was sitting in the all-too-familiar new patient area with her husband. They sat hand-in-hand and seemed to stare into space as others walked busily around them. The woman's face was as white as a ghost.
Oh man. I remember that day, I thought.
And, I do.
There have been two horrendous days in the last couple of years. One was that day. The first time ever at the cancer center. I didn't belong there. Not me. Surely, not me.
The other one was the day of the second diagnosis. Most of you remember my post that day. It was brief and to the point. No details. I wasn't ready, and it didn't matter, but now it does.
I went to my oncologists office by myself 2 days before I was scheduled to get my mediport out in a day surgery. She was going to give me a quick look over, say "You look great! Congratulations! You're done!" After all, that's pretty much how my appointments had been for a few months. Only good news. But this day, she came in and quickly began examining me. She stuck her hand in my left armpit just like she had done a hundred times. She moved her hand around and stopped. She removed her hand, and then put it back again. "What is this? Is this new? How could this be?" By this time, my heart was beating ninety to nothing and the look on the doctor's face was stone cold. "How could we have missed this?" She almost shouted the question.
I burst into tears. Though neither of us knew, we both knew.
She picked up her iphone and quickly scrolled through to find my plastic surgeon's number. I am so thankful that they are both professional colleagues and personal friends. It makes my life easier.
"What is this in Lindsey's armpit?" she inquired. "Did you notice it in her pre-op visit?"
Of course, he had no idea what she was talking about. After all, I could barely feel it myself. It was a God thing that she found it.
Within seconds, the two of them had collaborated as to whether or not a biopsy could be done right then. It was after 5, and it was unlikely that anyone would be available to do it. So, they arranged for a pathologist to meet me at the plastic surgeon's office first thing the next morning.
I was alone. And, I was devastated. The ONE time I decided to go by myself to my oncology appointment, and it had turned into a disaster.
My oncologist hugged me and said, "Do I need to take you home? I will call Brian." I reassured her that I would be fine, and that I would call Brian on my way to my car.
She replied, "Okay. Well, don't get your port out, and make sure that Brian comes with you in the morning. I'm very worried about this."
I dialed Brian just as soon as I could get service, and I could barely get the news out.
We were both in total shock. "How can this be?" we both continually pleaded, "I JUST finished treatment. I had a bilateral mastectomy. How in the world can this happen?"
I had to beg Brian to not come and get me. He finally agreed that I could just talk to him all the way home.
Finally, I got home. We alerted our families and prayed through a very scary night. I probably talked to 20 different friends and family members, and each reassured me that an armpit lump could be any number of things. It didn't have to be cancer. I took it all in, but I had a sense. I just knew.
The next morning we woke up early and dropped the dog off at the vet (medical appointments all around). I was fine until we left the vet. Then, my stomach lurched and my heart started pounding.
We drove in near silence and then we walked hand in hand to the doctor's office.
My plastic surgeon's office is full of the most caring people that I've ever met. They have loved me through some tough things, and they did that on that gloomy day. They gave me a surgical top to put on and led me quickly to the procedure room.
"We're waiting on the doctor. He'll be here any minute. And, he's such a wonderful man. You'll love him," they all kindly commented.
"Will we get results right away?" I asked.
"Yes. As soon as he reads the slides," they commented.
The next 3o minutes of my life are some of the most vivid that I can ever remember. The doctor came in, and he was wonderful. So sweet. So caring. He asked about us and our life, and told us about him and his life. But, I was just thinking, "Let's get to the point already. Get that biopsy done!"
Without further ado, he expertly harvested the cells he needed and dyed them carefully on his slides. He explained the whole chemical process to us. I didn't give a hoot. Brian and I both forced some laughter at his pleasantry, but our minds were a million miles away.
Brian put his clammy hand on my shoulder as I sat in the chair. The doctor's stool squeaked as he positioned it closer to the microscope. Time froze like a movie reel as he moved his eyes to the machine.
Oh. my. word. I thought that I'd faint on the spot, just waiting for the results.
At last, he turned with a start and said, "You are not going to like what I have to tell you. It's back."
We didn't cry. We didn't talk. We just nodded. And looked at each other with the most heart wrenching glances you can imagine.
That was a rough day. I wouldn't recommend it :)
But, let me tell you something - I never would've chosen this path, but I wouldn't change it. God's hand is so evidently upon us and in this, that I can't imagine it any other way now. I know that must sound strange to say, but it's true. This is the Lord's, and I'm just lucky enough to get to learn the lessons from it.