I cancelled my appointment with Dr. Singh on Wednesday. I just didn’t have the guts to find out how I was doing. You’d think that I’d be used to it by now – once a month appointments. Nope. Every visit is tough. No – that’s not right. It’s not the visit that is tough – it is having courage to go to an appointment that is tough. Afterall, I’m given the verdict of “you are doing well” or “your cancer is back”. Either way, I trust my doctor. I have faith in her. That’s not really the issue. I think it’s just finding out that the tiny plans that you may / may not have made for the upcoming week/ month/ summer may change.
Dr. Singh’s office called that very afternoon I didn’t show. So, what did I think? “This can’t be good. Why is she so desperate to see me? Is there something she needs to talk to me about?” Millions of questions – none of them good. The office wanted to see if I was okay and if I wanted to come in on Friday instead. sigh. Such a build up for nothing.
Friday – today – came. Thank goodness the appointment was in the morning, otherwise, I would have had all day to stress about it. That’s what happens. Too much idle time breeds too many wrong scenarios. And I was afraid of the results of this month’s blood work. After all, it was a year ago when I was “re-diagnosed” with cancer and begin my third round of chemo. It was two years after I ended my first round of chemo. I know these dates (helped by facebook), even though I’d like to think I don’t define myself by cancer. I buy tulips (not daffodils). I won’t attend ovarian cancer events (but will contribute). I don’t wear teal (the colour which represents ovarian cancer). You get the picture. Yet – when it comes right down to it – there is still not a day that goes by when I don’t think about cancer. In spite of my best efforts – I still live my life with cancer.
I don’t talk about it. At least – not in casual conversation. I keep it pretty private (even though here I am posting to my blog about it like a blabber mouth) because I don’t want to be defined by or known as, “the girl/ woman” with cancer. I didn’t think I minded talking about it – but I do. I have more interesting things in my life to talk about. Even though cancer threatens me every day. It’s like trying to ignore someone holding a knife to your throat while cooking dinner, doing laundry, dancing and singing, or grocery shopping. You know the knife is there – but you also don’t want it to change who you are or what you do. That takes energy.
Anyone dealing with a disease or life-threatening illness must be the same.
In any case, the knife moved away from my neck today to give me some breathing space. “Your bloodwork is outstanding,” reported my nurse to which I replied –
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me?”
Oops. Couldn’t help it. She laughed. I asked her if I could give her a hug – she was good – we hugged and laughed and left to get my oncologist.
“I love it when you come to see me, Stacey,” she said. “You are always so positive. You inspire me.”
“I inspire you?” I queried.
“Yes. I love your attitude. You lift my spirits and give me hope.”
Well, who knew. She is real. My Dr. Singh is a person too. I needed my students to tell me when they thought I was doing a good job – and so did she. Not a problem for me to sing her praises. Without her – I’d be dead by now. How does one not appreciate that!?
“Well – I am so very grateful for everything. I am living my life, watching my children grow, travelling. I went to Myrtle Beach this March Break with my family . I saw a ballet with my daughter. I look forward to my son’s return from school. I have made “tiny plans” for the future and have hope again that I will be able to see the Grand Canyon one day. All this – because of you!”
She argued with me that it was because of my positive attitude that I was doing well. But, we all know that it takes more than that – it takes good medicine and stellar care. So – I would suppose my Dr. Singh and I have a symbiotic relationship. And that’s good for me.
While I should look forward to next month’s visit – I know come time I will be trying to muster up courage once more. It is not easy. Nothing is easy about cancer – other than to recognize how challenging it can be. Still – I am in good hands. I have a wonderful family and wonderful friends who are here for me and with me. How lucky am I? I count my blessings every day. And it seems the more I count them, the more joy I feel. So, I’ll continue on this path for as long as I can – to summon a positive attitude and to face life with courage – and a nice bouquet of tulips doesn’t hurt!
I do wish I could have shared a glass of wine with my Mom and Dad, though, to celebrate as was always our tradition. I am thankful to have those memories and to making new memories as we celebrate life.