When your gynecological oncology surgeon calls you at noon on a Sunday. It just isn’t. And even when he’s being kind and asking you how you’re feeling and how’s that incision doing, you just know it isn’t.
At this moment, I know very little, except that he tried to reassure me that the prognosis is good. Despite the word CANCER coming out of his mouth. He tried to speak calmly and kindly, telling me it was a surprise to him, too, based on my hysteroscopy results, but that treatment will likely only be surgery to remove my ovaries, because it’s hormone fed cancer. But he gave me so little information, and I was so unprepared for this call that I asked him almost nothing. Despite all the knowledge I have from my mother’s uterine cancer, I basically asked him what the stage was, but he seemed unwilling to give me too much information at that point. Low grade, early stage. Those are the words I wrote down, among a few others. Then he told me we would talk all about it at my appointment on Tuesday.
I’d been just sitting down to have lunch when he called. There was food on the table, not much on my plate yet. I wanted to throw up. Instead, I bawled. I put my head down on the kitchen table and I bawled. Hub tried to comfort me, to tell me we’d tackle whatever it was together. But all I could hear in my head was the conversation at my mother’s first appointments. “Caught it early” they told her. “We got it all in surgery” they told her. “Early stage” they told her. Later, they ended up telling her it was a higher stage and higher grade because it was an aggressive and fairly rare type of cancer. The initial conversations were before the pathology came in about the type of cancer after surgery (they’d gotten cancer results in the initial pathology from her hysteroscopy). I’ve already had my surgery, but it seemed like he was telling me he couldn’t stage my cancer until after my ovaries were removed. I asked about lymph nodes, but I honestly have no recollection of how he responded. I’m sure they’ll take lymph nodes for testing. I’m sure I’ll get more information tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll be overwhelmed. I suspect I will cry, though I might be able to hold that until I’m home and can cloister myself away.
I waited more than four hours to tell my parents. I pretty much cried on and off those four hours. I called my mother–I couldn’t tell her face to face–and I told her. It was a terrible terrible moment to say it out loud. To say it to the woman who has been living it for over a year. To say it to the woman who had ONE DAY left on her radiation treatments, with the hopes of not thinking about cancer until her next PET scan. To the woman whom I’ve been cheering for for over a year. To the woman who is strong and has handled every single bit of her journey with such strength and such acceptance…and with an ability to live with so much unknown.
I’ve told no one else in my family. What’s the point when I have no information? I don’t even know what kind of surgery he’ll want to do or how quickly. I know that my mother had an abdominal surgery because they wanted to look around and do a pelvic wash to check for any bad cells floating around. But I just have no clue. I have no clue whether he’ll talk chemo or radiation or potential for …I don’t even know what.
I emailed T to see if she could spare some time for me. She’s leaving on vacation for a week, but I wanted to get some words of wisdom from her. She generously called me from home and spent about a half an hour talking to me. I told her I didn’t really expect to hear some great miraculous words from her, but I felt it was the right thing to do…to seek support from her. Especially since she’s going to be gone during this difficult week. She’s supposed to be sending me someone else I can call while she’s gone, but I haven’t gotten that yet. I’m not sure I’d go talk to a stranger at this point, but T assures me that this person would be a good fit for me. And as expected, I spent the thirty minutes on the phone just telling her I didn’t know what to do or how to act. That I didn’t know what I wanted people to say to me or to do for me. That I have no idea what to do with myself.
I cried on and off the whole of yesterday. Last night I had a vicious headache from the crying. When we turned off the lights to go to sleep, I did go to sleep. I was up early and the thoughts started racing right away. I want to be strong, but right now I feel weak. I am so fucking scared of what is to come. I’m so fucking scared.