A year ago today, a game of phone tag with the man who became "my" Surgeon ended in a conversation like this:
Surgeon: Jennifer. It's never easy to give news like this, and I'm really surprised because the mass definitely didn't feel like this at all, but we got the results of your biopsy, and you do have a small cancerous tumour.
Actually, I'm not sure it was much of a conversation really. Probably some "oh"s and "uh-huh"s from me while the Surgeon said some things about what he anticipated the prognosis to be (good) and what things were going to happen next. I don't really remember too much about that, although I do kind of remember my brain going something like:
Brain: Oh. It's a cancerous tumour. Well, I guess that's what I got it checked out for. I knew it was something. They all said it was nothing, but I knew it was . . . wait a second . . . I have a cancerous? tumour? I have cancer. Oh my God [that was me not taking God's name in vain, okay?] I have cancer.
I remember me trying not to cry on the phone. Then the phone call was over and I called my parents. "Hello?" said my mother. I thought I was going to say something, but instead I just burst into tears. She's my mother, so she knew exactly who it was and exactly what had happened.
Then I called my brother. Then I called the Milk Guy. Then I talked to Heather-of-Six for a long time.
I remember thinking about dying, and not feeling afraid of it at all. Being with Jesus finally would be nice, I thought. Things had been pretty stressful for a while. It would be nice to just go rest with Him instead of dealing with all this stuff here. I was afraid to talk about any of this (wanting to die without wanting to kill myself) in this blog, because I thought someone would misunderstand and get alarmed and . . . well, it would just get complicated. But now I'm just remembering.
In the end, I didn't die, and although there were a whole lot of upsetting and difficult steps in the process, I have kind of a nostalgic feeling about the time from October through December 2008. It was kind of the best of times and worst of times for me. I don't know how I got the support system (all over the world) that I have, but they've always been amazing, and last autumn they really pulled out all the stops in ways I could never have predicted. The Milk Guy hung in there and helped me think through my medical decisions instead of abdicating all control to the doctors. My parents flew back and forth from their Alternate Country to be with me during the scariest parts.
Now it's a year later and sometimes I forget I had cancer at all, and sometimes I feel guilty that I "got off so easy," because most people don't. I am cancer free, I didn't have chemo, and after my last check-up my doctor said, "I don't know what you're doing, but keep doing it--you're in great shape." I am on tamoxifen, and it does kind of wreak havoc with the rhythms of womanhood, such that, for example, I had PMS for the entire month of August (if you didn't see me in August, be thankful). But when I think of what it could have been, and of what, in some cases, I was told it was, I'm so grateful to be in the state I am now.