Sunday, January 13, 2008

On Pins and Needles

Continued from here

The pathology tech leaned over her microscope, "We have a winner!"

All I could think was - Thank goodness she had enough of a sample and that needle didn't have to go back in my neck. I wonder what it would've felt like without the numbing agent.

I asked her what her first impression was. She said at first glance it didn't look like the ordinary stuff you'd see in a cyst, but that it didn't jump out and say cancer! either. Also, because it was Friday and just before Labor Day Weekend, I shouldn't expect the results before Tuesday morning.

On the way home, my airway started to feel numb. It was a terrifying experience and I know I obssessed about it - poor hubs, he listened to my anxiety helplessly. It felt like I couldn't swallow or turn my head without some sort of strange sensation, or for that matter, telling my husband all about said strange sensations.

(Earlier that week, he had gone to the doctor with his mom to learn the results of a biopsy she'd had - she was diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma. So, not a very good week, medically speaking).

His sister and her family come every Labor Day and stay with us - a tradition we really enjoy and a nice distraction from all the waiting. But when I hadn't heard anything by Tuesday afternoon, I called my doctor's office. I was told that the pathologist had not released his report yet, but that it would be available the next day. I called again the next afternoon, all this waiting was killing me - I am not a patient person by nature.

I was at Target exchanging some shoes for Tyler when my doctor's office called me back, and it was my doctor on the line. That was my first clue. He said that the pathologist had just called him personally. That was my second clue. I already knew if he, not the nurse, was calling me that it was cancer. I was wandering around the shoe section slightly dazed, my mind brimming over with questions. The biopsy was positive for Papillary Thyroid Cancer and my thyroid would have to come out. The doctor told me who the pathologist had recommended for the surgery, and to also plan on being induced that weekend. They wanted me to have the baby earlier so I could recover sooner and have surgery within a few weeks.

I managed to hold it together during my conversation with the doctor. Ever practical, I hung up, exchanged the shoes, and called Mr. Triumph as soon as I was in the parking lot. "The doctor just called," - long pause while my throat got a lump in it the size of an egg, "I have cancer." Then I cried.

I was not at all brave, but I think maybe the pregnancy hormone overload had something to do with it. I mean who finds out they have cancer in the shoe section of Target? And then calls their husband from the parking lot? I think cancer is really a face-to-face sort of unveiling thing, not a telephone bomb-dropping deal, and most especially not a voice mail thing.

I cried from the shock of hearing the word cancer applied to me. Cancer is the thing that happens to other people. But it was happening to me, and I felt it was going to rob the spotlight from the baby we had waited for, for so many years. At that moment, I was very upset at the universe and the unfairness of the whole thing, but I guess cancer is never a matter of convenience. No one ever says, "Hey, next year looks good - how about then?"

Mr. Triumph and I talked briefly and agreed we needed more information from the surgeon before making any decisions or telling the kids. I regained my composure. We hung up and I called my mom. I felt like a little girl again, like I had scraped my knee and was going to my mom for comfort and the reassurance that everything was going to be okay - only there's no bandaid and a kiss big enough for cancer.

Of course I cried like a baby. I had no idea what was in store for me or what the outlook was - would I even get to enjoy this baby? I asked her to call and let my siblings know because I was in no shape to speak to anyone. One of my sisters took it almost as hard as I did. That was before we knew anything.

Keep reading here


Elizabeth-W said...

Oh Corrie.
Life is just hard.
Your way of describing things is brilliant-- "How about next year--can Fate pencil you in for cancer next year?"
That's how Moms are supposed to be. We should always be able to run to them. Life doesn't always work out that way, so I know you and I are grateful we have them to run to.
I have to tell you I don't know if (I could be reading these posts without sort of knowing what would be coming next.)

Summer said...

I'm almost certain I wouldn't have been able to keep it together inside the store.

Adria said...

You've got me in tears and I know how it ends. I know how I feel when other people say this, but really your strength is amazing. Not because you faced cancer but because of how gracefully you handle what comes your way. If that makes sense.

Corrie said...

ew - it's true though - if a trial came at a 'convenient' time, it wouldn't be considered a trial. And definitley thank goodness for moms we can run to, not everyone is so fortunate.

summer - I think I was in shock.

adria - thank you, I'll try to live up to that.

LammyAnn said...

Corrie---these posts have just left me... breathless. you've got quite a knack for helping me feel what you were feeling.
Great job---thank you for sharing your insight

Sue said...

Oh my goodness, I'll echo Lammyann - these posts have me on the edge of my seat. I DON'T know how the story ends and I hope you won't keep us in suspense too long because I'm all worried!

Cocoa said...

I don't know if I'd have been able to handle it as well as you did. And MOMS are the greatest thing ever invented. At least I hope my kids will think that someday...

Am'n2deep said...

In the shoe department at Target? This is definitely the sort of news I think should be given face to face with a loved one along. I don't know what to say, except I am so sorry. Again, thank you for sharing this part of your life.

Corrie said...

lammy & sue - thanks, I wanted to get it all written down, because for me it's like moving on.

cocoa - I hope my kids will one day know they can run to me too. You're never too old for mom.

am'n - I think it's mostly because I had the "good" cancer that they gave me the news over the phone. And maybe also because I kept calling them.

Heffalump said...

You are a strong person. Thank you for sharing this story. I look forward to the continuation.

Jen said...

I am so sorry to hear this. *hugs* I came over hoping for good news.

A friend of mine had to have his thyroid removed this year because of a cancerous cyst. He will have to take thyroid meds for the rest of his life, but his prognosis for a long, healthy future is very good. I hope for the same for you.

Corrie said...

heff - I will probably space them out more so I don't depress people - I think I would like to spunk up the place a bit but I can't figure out how.

Jen - You're right, if you're under 45 when they find it, the survival rate to 5 years is 95% so if I had to get a cancer, this would be the one to get - but it is still a pain in the neck! pun totally intended.