Two years since I drove myself to the hospital. Two years since I was alone and scared, sitting and waiting for them to take me back beyond the swinging doors. Two years since I was transferred to the operating table, the staff chatting with me since they knew me from other operations. Two years since I was there then gone into that empty place you go when you have surgery... alone except for one soul I felt with me, keeping me from being scared.
Frightened is having an unknown, and someone there to hold your hand. Scared is doing it alone.
Two years since I felt that presence with me, until I came completely awake, so aware they were there, I asked the nurse when they had left, even though I knew the physical body was many, many miles away. Two years since I woke up, unable to talk, tubes and needles in my arms and hands, nurses adjusting levels and drips and giving me water. Two years since I felt the pad on my neck.
Two years since my doctor who was so wonderful said I had a malignant tumour. A big one. Two smaller ones. That he'd taken out my thyroid, along with it's evil twin.... that my lymph nodes were clean, that it hadn't entered my blood stream.
Two years. I went on to six weeks of waiting, one hour of treatment, a week of isolation and then my blessed meds. As I move on, more stuff shows up that is touched by the thyroid...high blood pressure, I can't retain calcium anymore (they took my parathyroid..oops!) an inability to control my body temperature, eventually heart issues... the thyroid is the little gland that can. But, you know, it's not cancer. It's not a relapse. I'm good with that.
It's Breast Cancer Awareness month... something we all need to check for, including men. I have one of the orphan cancers.. no ribbons, no races, no real funding. It strikes three times as many women as men, usually in their 20's. The older you are, the tougher it can be. Watch out for the symptoms... rapid weight loss or gain, hair loss, swollen ankles, a lump (my only symptom) being so tired.... Be proactive should you have any of these... it's a sneaky cancer, with TSH levels showing normal when you are actually ill. All of my blood results were clean the day of my operation, and I had Stage Two cancer.
I'd love to think cancer can be eradicated... Sometimes, I think they do have the cure, but, the drugs are so expensive, so many people have it, why cure something that generates so much money?
Buy cancer health insurance... I wish I had it. It's cheap, and you'll need it should you reach that dark place.
Cancer is second to love in the realm of scary words in any language. Be aware, be proactive. If you know someone with cancer, let them talk about it... listen. Bring food... bring yourself. It's not catching, it's just scary... and, when we are in recovery, when we are in treatment, when we are tired and struggling to simply get out of bed--food and company, even short term company, is appreciated. Show up! People tend to shy away... to convince themselves it's better to leave that friend or family member alone, let them rest.
Trust me, we'll tell you when you need to go. Cancer makes you very outspoken, no time for bullshit. Show up, help out... do a load of laundry, or change the bedding. Be there for us. When alone, the imagination runs wild... I used to swear I could hear the malignant cells trying to lure the good cells over to their side.. wearing cheap blue taffeta dresses and garish makeup... "Come on, big boy! Come to the dark side!"
Your body has betrayed you. It's turned on itself, eating itself. Why me? you think... what did I do to get this? (My cousins and I ran behind the DDT trucks... I've a feeling that's our source) There is anger and frustration at the waiting for treatment, irritation at paperwork and tests and the way you are suddenly weak, hair falling out...so, so, sleepy. Breathing becomes a task.
Medicines and time in bed, and the fight to win the battle, the war. Do not be afraid, your love and friendship and concern are needed to shore up the sometimes overwhelmed loved one.
I know many with cancer right now... two of them had no signs, and suddenly, they are in serious shape. I have a friend whose mother is now in the battle. It's interesting that both women I worked with when I was employed by The Man also have cancer... The Godmother is back to work, and cancer free. The other found out she has 4th stage breast cancer... no signs, clear mammogram. My cousin, MV, has the same cancer I do, and her sister is being checked next week. It shows how prevalent cancer is these days.
Check, have tests done when you are at that age or if it runs in your family. Be conscious of your body, listen to it... then, be firm with the medical profession. You know your body, they don't.
Two years. It changed my life in a ton of ways, gave me new friends, let me weed out emotional vampires.
Remission is a happy, happy place... trust me.