Since I express myself through writing or music, I will choose writing this evening to get thoughts off my mind.
I am wide awake.
NEVER fails. This is how life works. I am happy, working, fit and in shape, mentally strong, and for the first time in my life content with where I lived.
I needed to find a new Dr for my Hashimoto’s; an auto immune disease brought on from my Lyme Disease, that can so commonly happen. My beloved doctor that found the Hashimoto’s had relocated. That man is a rarity, he truly treated people because he cared. I will never forget at my last appointment with him when he quietly told me he was having issues, so he was going to move on to his hometown. I went into a frenzy. It’s humorous to see me in one. I am not one to legitimately cry, claw and scream, it’s sorta comical and meant to be taken as such, but I was sincere in what the hell I would do now?!
I had already been through the ringer with doctors over the last ten years. I am not even going to write them all. It is so ludicrous they sound made up. All I can say is I still have all the paperwork. I will add, medical help is truly a matter of opinion. Only the people who have suffered for awhile or with a mystery, know this to be true. If you walked into an office with a cut and dry answer for a simple request, you won’t know what I mean.
This wonderful doctor not only has called to check on me as he settles in his new home with his family, but when I offer to send a check or pay for his phone consulting, he says every single time, “Donda, I care about you. I don’t want your money. I want things to be right with your health!”
Out of all these years. All these mistakes. All this greed. I am thankful I met this man.
He gave me back the belief in medical hope. I believe I was meant to move for many reasons, him being in the top two.
Anyway, as told in my blog ‘HYPE’, I knew that I had to keep an eye on my thyroid nodules, unfortunately the year was approaching quickly. I found this new doctor, not to be responsible and check my thyroid to be honest, only because I wanted to try to get a new prescription I had researched and read about. I was fine with the med I was on for my thyroid (Cytomel). However, I was still fatigued in the late afternoon. No matter how much I worked out, supplements I took, the fact I gave up red meat ages ago, took immune strengthening avenues, slept eight hours, was active, mentally and physically busy. There was my gut feeling again, thinking I’m too young to be this tired. I just wanted to try the new med I researched. Truthfully, I was and am, so drained I had ZERO desire to get anything from this man except get this med. I also knew at times I was too busy or bored with it to get my total water intake consistently. I figured the fatigue mistake was on my end. Glucose levels are more important than people realize. However, I had to keep my blood levels monitored with a thyroid disease. I had to have my prescription filled when the refills from my relocated doctor, ran out. (The relocated, wonderful doctor planned on continuing my treatment by phone once he set up a new practice.) Although, until then I had to be prepared. Plus, I don’t harass people. I didn’t want to hound the man, he was trying to set up his home and move on.
Sure enough, this new doctor started with questioning if I even had Hashimoto’s. I debated, “I have the test results, sir”. He was pissed. He was the doctor. Same old story. I will do my own testing mentality. I yawned, sat back, crossed my legs, let him ramble. It didn’t affect me for these reasons: 1) Been there done that. Repeatedly.
2) I knew Cytomel could not help me feel better, if I didn’t have a thyroid issue. 3) That is how I operate with strangers. If I know deep down I plan on never letting you see me again, if I have no passion left for the present conversation, I will let you feel like you are the alpha dog. Then I leave. Done. Good riddance. What do I care?
The verbal request appointment then turned into the exam. Bobby was with me at this one, he watched as the doctor started rubbing my neck, holding my throat asking me to swallow, telling me to close my eyes and hold my hands in the air to see if the shook (they didn’t), look to the left, look to the right, while he held on to my throat, massaged behind my ears. Then, he sat down and started explaining Thyroid Cancer. Detailed Cancers of the throat. As I listened, he focused on Bobby. Again, I think some of these doctors are either intimidated my husband is sitting there or he’s chauvinistic, who knows but I just kept thinking, “Hmm.. I’ll try a new family doctor to get this med from, I wanna try it, what’s that paper read on that desk?..hummidy hum…” The doctor then looked over at me and said, “The chances of you having cancer in the neck is three to five percent. I highly doubt this is malignant but I want to do a biopsy. Okay?” I was completely unaffected. “Uh..yes, doctor. Sure.” Then he asked me if I was afraid of cancer. I felt like Scooby-Doo. ROOO-HUH?
A person can’t ask me questions. Not if you don’t want the truth. Unless if I am trying to protect your feelings, I will lay it out, flat. “Well yes, I am. My parents died of cancer. Many people I love have.” His eyes lit up, literally.
“BOTH YOUR PARENTS? OF WHAT?”, he asked. I answered, “Well, my dad was from Lung. I understand how that happened of course, but my mom was told she was fine. Then a short time later told she was in fourth stage Uterine Cancer. They said a hysterectomy would take care of it, then after much more grief for her, she died.” He then felt the need to give me a speech. I thought, “Ugh why do I always have to answer truthfully?” He went into how rare this will be if I even have some sort of throat cancer. On and on.
My answer is still my answer.
The woman was robbed.
The time came three weeks later. It was never on the forefront of my mind. Absolutely no worries. I keep a calendar with deadlines of my writing, things I have to take care of, trips I want to plan, etc. One day, I looked at the book and noticed the biopsy was approaching.
Once the day arrived, I felt like a robot. Just far far overboard with the appointments, tests, blood, trauma. Jesus, enough. This is what my demeanor was and it’s my favorite thing about myself. In fact, a conversation I had with my daughter recently while getting her to realize her favorite things about herself, & she asked me in return. I thought about it on the biopsy day. My answer, I’m a realist. To the highest of the extreme.
I may be considered strong. I appreciate when people know that about me because I am. I attribute that all to the unique, pillar of strength woman who raised me, and probably getting married so young therefore being independent very early in life. I also just cannot be more realistic. Whether what I am telling a person is absolutely criminal of it taking place, I will say it with such calmness and conviction because ‘that’s just the way it is. It’s reality.’
The closest people in my life know it is extremely hard to shock me for that exact fact.
So, I had that trait going for me on this day. Had to do it. It’s reality.
A sweet nurse took me in to check my weight and blood pressure. I warned her how it is consistently low, she commented how very low it is and joked that it’s probably hard to get me angry. We laughed, she then asked if I was smoker. My laughter ended. “I quit seven years ago.”, I said to defend myself. She didn’t care about that part. “Uh-huh, how long did you smoke? How much?” (SHIT) “Ahhh..22 years..a pack a day..sometimes more..” She made the famous southern sound, “mmm-hmmm..”, as she wrote it down. I thought, “Oh for godssakes, stick the needle in my neck and wrap this up.” I greet the doctor, take my shirt and necklace off, take my earrings out, lie down, break my back with the hump I have to lie back on, you know the drill. As the doctor put the transducer on my neck he asked, “What hospital did you have your last biopsy at? What side did they focus on?”, I answered. He then grew irritated and growled, “That’s not the side to worry about..grr..” As I lay perfectly still and he tells me not to swallow and turn my neck to the left. I do just that. He begins taking hundreds of pictures of the right side of my neck. Only the two nurses could see what I could not on the screen. The nurse to my left, started rubbing my arm and babying me. Something I loved from my mom, but this was making me a little edgy. What is she seeing? As she is caressing my arm, she is looking down smiling gently. The other nurse is staring at the screen. The doctor then numbed me and did the biopsy. I did not feel a thing.
When finished, I sat up and said, “Gaaa, that killed my back.” The doctor said, “Your back hurts all the time?” I answered, “Well, yeah but it has all my life.” He then asked, “Has the pain grown worse or is it the same?”. I then knew. (sonofabitch,) “It’s worse.”. I just cleared my throat. Put my shirt and jewelry on, thinking another appointment done. Just give me the med I want so I can go away. He looked away from the microscope and my sample to say, “I want to see you next Wednesday to discuss the results.” I knew he wouldn’t tell me there but as usual, I gambled and spoke honest. “What do you see, sir? You do this all the time, right?” He held his hand out to shake mine and said, “I’m going to send it to the lab. I will see you next week.”
As the nurses walked me out, one said “GOOD LUCK!”, and walked off. A common saying yes, but not one you want to hear from the person who just watched the screen of what is inside your neck. The other one, who was so compassionate with me, walked with me. I said, “Thank you for your kindness during the procedure. When will the results be in?”. She said, “Well, what’s your number? They will be in Friday.” I thought, “Good. If this is anything, the sweet woman will call. No call. No worries. No big deal.”
I didn’t expect one either.
As I wrote, NEVER fails. This is how these situations happen. When you are your happiest, when things are going the best, and when things could not be more smooth. You will get THE call.
Sure enough, I had the day off. I was drinking coffee, making my daughter breakfast, laughing with music playing. The phone rings. Caller ID reads the name of my city. I figure it’s a writing job. It’s common for me to either get them on my work phone or my cell. I answered, and it’s the pissed off doctor wondering why my appointment is not set up. I protested, “Sir, I made the appointment when I checked out. I don’t know what to say.” He responded, “Well, it’s cancer. I need to see you immediately.”
I did not believe what I was hearing. “It is?” Then it hit me. D A M N I T. My daughter is standing here. I just tried to listen the best I could to what he was saying, without speaking. He mentioned ‘surgery and following the procedure afterwards’ and ‘I knew at the biopsy. I don’t make appointments for benign results.’ (He had to get that part in..) As I didn’t flinch to stay calm for my girl. I can’t explain it, I was shocked and yet not at all. I was lifted into another dimension but I was still intently listening. The hard part was he is not American so he could have been telling me to ‘draw up a will, you have four weeks to live’, for all I knew. I didn’t have the faintest idea what he said.
I hung up. I stuck to the first thing my mom taught me about being a mother. Never lie to your children. They won’t trust you. My girl asked, “Is it, mama?” Even though she is 19. It ended up being the one of the hardest days of my life. Talking, explaining and helping her through that news. Convincing her to stay positive as I could tell she needed to cry, so I told her it wasn’t healthy to hold it in..as she let the tears out then soon after became strong for me. Telling my husband ended up being such a worry because I still don’t know if he can get through this he’s taking it so hard.
See, when you have watched every single person you love be told they have cancer to watch them deteriorate and die painfully and slowly. As Bobby experienced just as I have, Even though you know ones who suffered and lived, the bad ones are forever etched in your brain to what happens. Just this surgery. Just this procedure. Always seems to turn into more found soon after. Bobby and I always swore to each other we would never fight cancer with western medicine. We would never take those doctors words for it that all will be well after this one surgery (when the air hits the cancer.)
I don’t like to refer to people who have survived cancer as ‘cancer survivors’ because not only do they deserve a more fitting title to have taken that on and not died. Superheroes, something better. I just don’t like to insinuate the ones who died were not the fighters they were to be able to survive it. They were. They just had poisoning put in their bodies to fight it. The air hit it. They weren’t young enough. They weren’t healthy enough. They weren’t positive enough. They didn’t have the best of doctors. Their insurance wasn’t good enough. They were overly medicated to fight anymore. It was just their time. Who knows, but every single person who takes on cancer is a survivor in my eyes. Whether they live or not.
“Cancer is not a battle that we win or lose. It is not our fault or a sign of weakness. We are not responsible for our cancer outcomes. The crapshoot of cancer and recurrence can NOT be controlled. Celebrate yourself for each time you, despite all the trauma of cancer, treatment, and the mind-fuck of “survivorship”, choose to love, live, lust, laugh… We are not a success story based on our cancer progression or not. We succeed when we are courageous enough to keep walking forward even with missing parts, severe pain, addled brains, and broken hearts.” ~Dr. Erica D. Bernstein
Interesting. Wonder if she is a doctor for the money or the person?
Anyway, where I’m at now, It’s complicated. For me. All of us. Bobby just keeps saying he wants to grow old with me. He is in a panic. I have put myself in his shoes, I understand. Every single person who is close to me is telling me gently, I should get a second opinion and get the cancer out. God bless them. That’s a tough thing to address. I have been brought to tears, which is hard to do with me, with things that have been said to me. Just beautiful, caring, concerned, loving thoughts, gestures and advice. Things people have always wanted to say to me. I am blessed to have the people that care. My girl is being nothing but strong and positive. My Bobby, a complete wreck but setting it up to get me to the best place. Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Me? After researching the best cancer center, I found out holistic ways to cure cancer. There are many. The average person just doesn’t know about them because Holistic Medicine does not make billions of dollars a year. I really don’t want my neck cut open. Hence, why I chose Sloan-Kettering if I am going to do this, I want a surgeon who does these seven days a week. Not one who does this maybe twice a year, (again, three to five percent get this. I wasn’t supposed to have a malignant tumor in my neck. Remember?).
I am taking a huge risk to ignore it. I’m rolling the dice either way I choose in my eyes. I am taking a risk for it to grow and to close off my breathing in my windpipe in my sleep, without knowing it one night and my family finding me dead if I don’t make the attempt to get this cancer out. Then again, a large percentage of people are found to have cancer in their necks during autopsy, yet they don’t die of it. That’s how common it becomes with age. I have read stories where people chose to ignore it. I have read stories where it takes years to recover. I read where they found it spread later. Along with stories where it was a success. What does a person choose?
All I know is I have to protect my family. I calmed Bobby down with telling him we are just going to take a getaway to NYC for dinner, walk in Central Park, and a discussion with Sloan-Kettering for a second opinion. Drew is all for the second opinion. This sweet, loving girl who has had only me consistently, trusts the decision I will make. Those who love me, and the ones I know who work in medicine tell me a second opinion is a must and cancer in the throat is very slow growing. My last beloved Doctor does not believe this is happening to me.
All I know for sure is hearing these words wake you up to what really matters like no other situation.
I know I hope to be at Drew’s college graduation, wedding, birth of her child.
I know the little things a person worries about truly mean nothing. I know what has hurt you in the past becomes non-existent.
I know I hope to finish my book I am writing. I hope to be a grandparent with Bobby. I really want a Yorkie-Poo, I can not wait for Alison Krauss’ new album, and Lee Ann Womack’s. I know I’m looking forward to the good parts of the book I am reading, Proof of Heaven. I’m intrigued. A book I bought long before being told this, but just started reading. I know I have far more to see and do. I know I am a fighter but a person can’t choose whether the cancer will kill you or not. No matter how hard of a fighter you are, I know it is a travesty money still ranks over health care but it always will. I know if I never heard those words said to me I would never in a million years tell the person who has heard the words, what to choose.
I know I am young.
From there and in NYC, I will make my decision. I will follow the number one rule my mom taught me from the time I could walk, follow your gut.
**This video is Bobby’s 28 year old love song to me.