Wonderful letter, Acehigh. So much like my lung cancer. Mine was 1b and the right lower lobe removed...six inch incision just under my breast. Try to heal that...aargh! I didn't wear a bra again for over six months.
All of us can understand how you were feeling. At first I didn't tell anyone but then I told everyone. I was afraid that "what if I didn't make it home then I wouldn't have told everyone I loved them" so I spilled my guts. The outpouring of love and support was profound.
I love that you wrote down all your feelings and the song...a wonderful song that says it all. Thank you so much for sharing.
You can't start a new chapter of your life if you keep on re-reading the last one.
I wrote this the night before surgery. I was lucky, it was stage 1a lung cancer and caught incredibley early. I just had my 2 1/2 year cat scan today. I cant remember who wrote the song........it came out a few weeks before I was diagnosed.
He said I was in my early forties, with a lot of life before me And one moment came that stopped me on a dime. I spent most of the next days, looking at the x-rays Talking bout’ the options, and talking bout’ sweet time.
“Your chest x-ray came back; there were a few shadows we need to discuss.”
Her coworkers, chattering in the cubicle next to hers, erupted into laughter and she covered her free ear with a hand.
“I’m sorry; it gets a little loud at lunchtime. What did you say?”
“I have your x-ray and the radiologists written report. They found a few abnormalities.”
I asked him when it sank in, that this might really be the real end How’s it hit’cha when you get that kind of news? Man, what did ya do?
“…………I recommend a CT scan for further evaluation.”
“……….the CT scan was inconclusive, I want you to get a PET scan and see a lung and thyroid specialist.”
And in a voice as casual as one might have when inquiring about the weather, she had asked, what exactly does this mean?
“We don’t know for sure right now. It could be a shadow; it could be scarring. Or it could be something more serious. I want to check into all possibilities.”
And that was when she, the compulsive list maker and organizer had started a folder to keep track of appointments and to follow precisely the time chronology suggested because she found comfort in order in what was becoming increasingly mind numbing and chaotic.
It was, of course, a complete folder with copies of the radiologist and her physicians reports, and CD’s of the scans, and names and phone numbers and instructions of people and places she couldn’t afford to misplace.
She was able to do this because she was a religious follower of the belief that “one should never underestimate the power of denial as a coping mechanism” philosophy of life. And it had worked because her doctor and none of the specialists had ever said what she could not bring herself to ask; “Do I have cancer?’
She met with the pulmonologist who laughed at her response to his query of “Do you have aches and pains?” with “Doc, I’m past 40, of course I have aches and pains. Every time it rains my kneecaps feel like someone is smashing them with a hammer.” She remembers idly wondering when it was exactly physicians and police officers had All started to look so incredibly young.
“I am recommending a lobectomy; what they will do is remove the nodule and do a biopsy; if it is malignant, they will remove the lobe. If not, they will keep the lobe and sew you back up. I’d like you to make an appointment with the surgeons and they will explain the procedure and answer any questions you have.”
The surgeons had been older and had a calming, Dr. Welby effect on her. They both seemed to fairly bubble about the surgery.
“The DaVinci Method uses 3D robotics and is minimally invasive. In the past, they had to crack your chest open to reach your lungs; now they make 4-5 incisions and your ribs remain intact. Most patients ask why we remove the entire lobe and not just the nodule. The answer is that if the nodule is malignant, as we suspect, there might be microbial cells the PET scan did not detect but might advance to a later stage of cancer”
And that was the first time she had actually heard the words ‘cancer’ and ‘malignant’. Driving back to work after the appointment, she had started to shake, and had pulled into a full parking lot, turned off the ignition and bit her lip until it bled to stop the tears that were an admission of just how terrified she really was.
I went skydiving I went rocky mountain climbing I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu And I loved deeper And I spoke sweeter And I gave forgiveness I’d been denyin; And he said some day I hope you the the chace To live like you were dying’
“Honey, its going to be such a nice weekend; how about we go to the ocean and spend the night. We’re barely 90 minutes away, there wont be any bridge traffic, we’ve lived here for 6 years, and we still haven’t even seen the boardwalk.”
He said I was finally the husband, most of the time I wasn’t And I became a friend a friend would like to have. And all of a sudden goin’ fishin, wasn’t such an imposition And I went three times that year I lost my Dad. Well I finally read the good book, and I took a gook long hard look At what I’d do if I could do it all again
“Hey Dad,” Pinching herself so she wouldn’t fall apart. “I have a few extra vacation days, I was thinking we could come up the next weekend before you leave for Australia. You know, since you’ll be gone for a month and I wont be seeing you over Thanksgiving This year”
And her father, 83 and going strong, who still ran and bicycled a few miles each day, and who had already lost both parents, a beloved sister and brother, and his soulmate, his wife, to cancer had responded with his usual exuberance.
“I’d love to see you Honey; I know 8 hours is a long drive, but I do wish you could make it up more often. We’ve already had a frost,, so dress warmly. How about you and I cycling thru the parks, they are absolutely gorgeous this time of year.”
After the date for surgery had been confirmed; she had been torn about how much to tell her family. She wanted to say nothing; and wait until it was over and she was home again. But what if, (and always that damn what if voice in her head) she didn’t come home? She had been as enamored and impressed with the robotic surgery that could now, according her surgeon, not only move up and down and sideways, but around corners as well.
“This is handy,” she had thought, “ to go around crookedy patients”.
Her sister and two brothers and herself had been the invincible four. Even now, 4-5 decades past childhood, they remained best friends and tied forever beyond time and circumstance. When the rest of the world turned their back, they were there for each other, because they shared a memory, something they all still longed for , something none of them could ever identify. And she couldnt tell them either.
Her father had been planning this trip to Australia for almost a year. She could not, would not destroy that with worry over something that in all probability would be Fine and forgotten with in a few weeks.
She called the day before he was to leave for Australia and they had chatted about the poor performance of the Browns and the upcoming election, and she had teased him in a way her other siblings did not, and he had chuckled, because she was her mothers daughter and her outrageous comments kept her mother alive for him and she knew that. And she wanted to ask forgiveness for the years they had remained strangers, to try and explain that he had been such a God to her and she had felt like she had been such a disappointment to his expectations and that was why she had only loved her animals openly, because they had no expectations, and therefore it was impossible to disappoint them because they accepted and loved her regardless of her shortcomings and faults and failures.
But she didn’t.
Like tomorrow was the end And ya got eternity to think about what to do with it, What should you do with it What can I do with it What did I do with it?
I went skydiving I went rocky mountain climbing I road two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu And man I loved deeper I and I spoke sweeter And I watched an eagle as it went flyin’ And he said, I hope you get the chance To live like you were dyin’.
During the dark nights that followed, when unbidden, the fear strangled the breath from her lungs and she awoke, clawing for breath, she thought of the dolphins, the open sea, and how she would grasp hold of their dorsal fin and fly with them in their graceful dance toward the morning sun appearing just beyond the horizon, toward just one more tomorrow.
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