I have cancer. I can say that now without crying, most of the time… I have used that word, cancer, so much in the past three days that I’ve managed to become desensitized to it a bit. That was my goal. I’ve lived in fear of getting sick, really sick, most of my life. Now that I am sick, really sick, I want to take the power away from the word. I want to be able to deal with the issue at hand so I can fight for my life without falling to pieces every time I say the word cancer.
Three days ago my life changed, again. I went in for an ultrasound, they had scheduled it without any results because I have been so bad about regular screening that when I described the period from hell I just had they wanted to get the test in right away. So at 11:00 am I was sitting with my feet in stirrups looking at a picture of my uterus and ovaries. Something that I thought would never happen in my life since I wasn’t interested in having children. 15 minutes later I was in a doctors office going over the results of the various tests they had done over the past few days and she told me you have cancer. I’m not sure the exact words because that was the moment when my brain shut down and I asked her to go get my husband from the waiting room.
Husband and I had plans for that afternoon but suddenly neither one of us felt like doing much, we both just wanted to go home. Stopped and picked out some movies at the library and headed back to try to wrap our minds around the diagnosis of cancer.
Two days later the doctor’s office called to check on me and see if I understood everything. I learned that my grade of cancer is one, the stage won’t be learned until my appointment at the University of Iowa for my hysterectomy. I also learned that my pap smear was normal if it wasn’t for the biopsy they would have not detected the cancer. So far I am lucky. Damn lucky, and I know it. Grade one is the most treatable type of cancer to have and if it hasn’t spread removing my uterus will probably do the trick. That’s the problem I’m facing now. I’m in doctor appointment limbo. I have six more days before my appointment on the 28th to sit here and worry about if it has spread or not. Six days to sit here and mentally evaluate every ache and abdominal pain, debating if it is cancer or the broccoli I had for dinner. I do think the tiredness I’ve been feeling is probably the cancer. I’ve been going to bed earlier and earlier the past few weeks as I can barely keep my eyes open past 8:30. I thought it simply was the stress, now I’m not so sure.
Husband and I are trying not to worry while making precautionary plans. He is learning how to do the chores and take care of the animals and I am informing people about my diagnosis. I am also working out long-term plans if things don’t work out so well. I have places for my animals to go, thank you again to that friend. I have decided we can’t keep all the cats and have found a good home for one of the kittens and momma kitty. I am trying to rest up and stay
positive, scratch that, I am trying to stay realistic. There is a lot we don’t know right now and I don’t want to have false hopes or high expectations. Simply removing my uterus might not fix everything. I need to be prepared for that. My husband needs to be prepared for that. We no longer have the luxury of thinking things like “you’ll be fine” or “I don’t think it’s cancer”. It is cancer, it is major surgery and there is a lot that can go wrong. Of course, there is a lot that can go right, but I’ve always lived with the philosophy of prepare for the worst and if you get lucky at least you were ready.
I’ve decided to go public with my diagnosis, obviously, because it is what is right for me. I hope people don’t think I am doing this for attention. I’m not. I do hope that talking about my cancer helps others. Helps to destigmatize the diagnosis. The other reason is that we will need help. My husband and I are two people with no extended family nearby and we might need to ask others for help. I want others to know what is going on so that when I reach out it isn’t out of the blue. I hope we can do much of this on our own, my husband is a private person (boy did he marry poorly…) and I hate to burden others. But the reality is that there will probably be a time or two over the next few weeks and months where we have to ask someone for help, and I will be eternally grateful for all that is given.
I have cancer and I am scared. I don’t know what is going to happen next or if everything is going to be alright. I do know I don’t want to die and I’m going to fight.
Thanks for listening, Amy