Almost a year ago around this time I became really sick. Then one morning, I got a call from one of my doctors. He was concerned about my dangerously high calcium level. He sent me to the infusion clinic right where I worked. I sat in the waiting area and a nurse approached me. I can tell she was trying to be gentle and careful to not offend me, but I guess there was no way to really mentally prepare for the question she was going to ask.
“Do you have cancer?”
“No. Well, not yet? No that I’m aware of?”
I wasn’t offended by her question, just surprised, followed by understanding. Infusion clinic is where patients usually go to receive chemo. I was there to receive fluids to help dilute my calcium level. She only asked to be sure I take precaution as to not pass along any illnesses to the already immunosuppressed cancer patients.
I was there for two hours. I would be lying if I said I didn’t think that this was some sort of sign, prophecy, of what my future may look like. At that moment I felt I was merely waiting on the official cancer diagnosis. Is it leukemia? Breast? Thyroid?
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the only sign I thought I received. One of the first abnormal labs were my low blood count. I called to schedule an appointment with my hematologist. While booking the appointment, the receptionist forgot and said “oncologist.” I was confused and asked, “Oncologist? What do you mean?” As if maybe he knew something I didn’t. Like maybe he saw a cancer diagnosis in my chart that I haven’t been informed about. He quickly appologized and corrected himself. The following week, on my way to see the hematologist for the first time, I then understood why the receptionist said what he said. I had entered the cancer or oncology department. The waiting area to see my hematologist was filled with cancer patients. Needless to say, I felt very out of place. I was the only one in her late 20’s in an area filled with 80 and possibly 90 year olds. I remember wondering if they saw me and felt some sort of pity assuming what my fate was.
After 3 months, it took a team of doctors (hematologist, endocrinologist, urologist, nephrologist), a lithotripsy that landed me in the hospital for a few days, bone marrow biopsy, mammogram, and a parathyroidectomy to safely say that I did not have cancer. Hallelujah. Praise Buddha.
However, 3 months was quite a long time to be thinking that you may have cancer. During that time I thought about the life I would want to live depending on the severity of my prognosis. I thought about whether I would refuse chemo. I watched a documentary on how to die with dignity in Oregon. Then proceeded to research how to become a resident of Oregon. I was certain I would choose quality of life over anything else because what good is it to live an extra 3 months if during that entire time you’d be puking your guts out. I was confident I would prefer to choose to go peacefully and on my scheduled time. Maybe it’s coward thinking. Call me a coward but wouldn’t it be nice though to decide when you’d want to say your goodbyes. For me, there’s a sense of comfort in that. You get to seek closure of needed.
Anyway, sorry to be so morbid. It’s been a year since it all happened and I wanted to finally take the time to reflect and count my blessings. And perhaps, to my 80 year old self, this will serve as a friendly reminder that, yes, 2016 was kinda crappy. Just kidding. Maybe just half crappy. 😁