Saturday, June 2, 2012

I. Have. Cancer.

     I'm not sure where to begin. I only know that if I do not write it all down, I am not going to remember. I am amazed to see that it was March 2011 that I made my last post. Not because it was so long ago, anyone who knows me knows that sometimes months pass (years?) before posting again. No, I am amazed because it was in March 2011, while undergoing all of the cardiac tests...that a high white blood cell count of 18,000 was missed by my general practitioner. Fast forward to December. I am in the doctors office. He does a blood test. He calls me two days later and tells me to go to the ER. My white cell count is now 23,000. Thankfully my mom called off of work and drove me to the ER. (Thank you mama)
     I am unsure if I can put into words how freaked out I was (am?).Does freaked out even work in this instance?
      Mike is in Arizona trying to get work. In the past, he has been there (here) for everything. We have spent only one night apart in 26 years. As it stands we have now been apart for 6 weeks and 2 days. He leaves Friday morning for home, thank you God.
     The ER was slow, and chaotic. I was afraid. I was cold. I was tired. And then. And then the ER physician told me they thought I had either Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia or Low-Grade Lymphoma....well. Well...I wanted to say. Are you sure? Because there is a whole lot of people in here you know. Are you sure your talking about me? I am only 44. I have never smoked. I have never drank. I eat  healthy. I am in nursing school. I have no cancer in my family. Surely now, you must be mistaken... you better check your records.
     Only, he was sure it was me.
     Lets just say I actually suffered some pretty severe stress induced sleepless nights while my brain tried to wrap its squishy self around that bit of news.
     They sent my blood to some impressive sounding lab in San Diego and we are still waiting the results which they said can take anywhere for a week to ten days. Its been one week.
     A week of questions. A week of tears. A week of coping. A week of wondering. A week of talking to God. A week of grieving. A week of hoping. A week anger. A week of research. A week of seeing beauty where I had forgotten it hides. A week.
     For the first couple of days, my emotions were unstoppable due to lack of sleep and exhaustion. My daughter, bless her, was trying to cheer me up. She said" Mom, just imagine it is not 4pm and dark and cold and winter outside. It is actually 10:30pm and the sun has finally set on a long summers day. The pavement is still warm when we go outside and walk on the sidewalk in our bare feet and the air is that perfect temperature that makes your skin happy." She didn't quite get it all out before i was wracked with sobs. Not because of anything more than absolutely loving the memory of summer, longing for it, and the worry that I might not see it again.
     I wonder if those who are told they probably have cancer have similar reactions. Everything was the exact same as the day before, except everything was so completely and horribly different. I felt, and still feel at times that I am looking out of someone else's eyes. The world is colored entirely in different hues. I feel detached from myself and at the same time, never more aware of me and of life and of breathing in and out and how perfectly beautiful and wonderful that is.
     Last Friday I went to my pastor's office for prayer. I blubbered words and tears and used way too many tissues. He listened, and prayed with me, and over me. He anointed my forehead with sweet smelling oil. He told me then of how his father had died when he was very small, and his mom .... who had to go through the days afterward and still be a mom, later told him what she had used to get through the days of unbelief. She continued to say to herself.."Just do the next thing." Even as I write this, it brings tears to my eyes. What beautiful words. Just do the next thing.  Because sometimes it feels that the future is so full of so many things to do, full of so many frightening places, crammed with tangled diagnoses, pain and uncertainty. But for now, I can just do the next thing and keep going.
     I remember when my daughter died, how hard it was to leave the hospital. In the months leading up to her death I had worried about that moment over and over and over. How would I leave? I decided, that when the time came. I would put one foot in front of the other. Over. and over. until I was in the car. And that is exactly what I did. I carefully placed one foot in front of the other, and soon I was walking away.
     It's sort of the same now.
   For me, the footsteps in the sand poem, has been changed to footsteps in the snow. Thank you my God, for holding me when I cannot walk on my own.

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