Cancer has a way of launching a full-scale attack on a number of fronts. Physically it’s pretty stealthy, laying beneath the surface, spreading its poison without detection. But in every other way it’s unashamedly in-your-face. Emotionally it wears you down. Day after day the uncertainties and anxieties just keep coming with no relief. Psychologically, it capitalizes on its reputation as a ruthless killer reminding you at every turn of its deadly history and many victims. Spiritually, it tests even the strongest faith and pokes holes in long-held beliefs.
It’s quite the formidable foe.
The first doctor I saw after the diagnosis was the surgeon. I don’t know what I expected him to say but it certainly wasn’t what he said. He began to lay out the plan of attack and the farther in he got the more it felt like someone was kicking me in the gut over and over again. He mentioned surgery, ileostomy, temporary but possibly permanent, recovery, chemo, radiation, more surgery. The hammer of reality swung down and struck me square in the chest. I remember thinking, “This is real and it’s dangerous.” I left there in shock, knocked back, reeling from the gravity of what we were facing, what lay ahead.
I went home and had an anxiety attack. I remember every detail of it. I was sitting at the dining room table and Jen was there beside me. We talked about what would come next even though we knew nothing of what the future held. And then it hit me. The truth of the matter was that while we waited for the secretary to call us with an appointment for the oncologist this monster inside me could be spreading, reaching its scaly tentacles throughout my body, infesting other organs with its rogue cells. I wanted to see the doctor right then, get things going, extract the monster from me. I couldn’t wait even one day longer. One day may be too late. Every day, hour, minute was one moment too long.
I began to shake and sweat. I wanted to holler out. I didn’t want to die, not like that, not at the hand of some merciless disease.
Eventually, I calmed but that seed of doubt had already been planted. From that day forward I began to entertain thoughts of death. That was right before Easter, the day we celebrate life and the Life.
How do you feel about waiting, especially when it seems life and death are in the balance?
Please share these posts with friends and family you know who have been touched by cancer. I’d love to hear their stories too.
Read the previous post, “The Battle Begins” here.