My oncologist says it's normal to think every twinge or ache is cancer.
Nancy's Point recently wrote about finding a new normal after a breast cancer diagnosis. What constitutes a normal life for us? I'm not sure my life before was normal.
Is it normal to lose both a mother and aunt to breast cancer?
Is it normal to marry at the ripe old age of 36?
Is it normal to go to Russia five times in order to start a family through adoption?
Depending on perspective and environment, none of that may seem normal. Compared to some other life somewhere, anywhere, on this planet...it's out of the ordinary, but not for me.
This kind of normal caused me to lose valuable, irreplacable time.
This normal discussed occasional, possibly insignificant aches with my oncologist during a routine visit, because as he accurately says, cancer patients worry everything points toward recurrence. Despite blood work and tumor marker exactly where they should be, the question still lingers...
The thought proceeds to burn a hole in my brain, stealing any chance of enjoyable days with my children or happily planning a future, both immediate or otherwise.
His words, "bone scan" along with "chest and abdomen CT scans" spread the flame.
Bone scan? I've never had one. What will that uncover? Something. Why else would he send me?
Normal questions asked by a normal girl.
For eight days, the tests loom large, while my world gets small. My husband takes the day off. We arrange childcare. I'm told it will take most of the day. While waiting, I sit home and read of happy events for Facebook friends. I've stopped planning our upcoming August vacation. I need to know the answer before I can move ahead. I can't pretend things may not change.
In the car, on the way over I see on my iPhone that Ann from Breast Cancer? But Doctor, I Hate Pink has learned of liver metastasis. I'm devastated for her. She's just like me. One day believing all is well, going for tests and hoping beyond hope for good results.
Why would I be different? Why her, not me? No good reason. I believe it finds us all in time and I'm pissed at the pink world that believes otherwise. Those using pretty pink to blindfold us from the truth. It could be my day.
At the appointment, I'm told there's a discrepancy regarding the amount of radioactive tracer needed for the bone scan and there wasn't enough for me. I'd have to come another day. Those words, as no other in the last week, bring tears. I've rearranged my life to accommodate this day. How can I leave knowing there's still no answer? Still wondering, having to come back.
Over lunch, my husband told me all would be fine. I didn't have the heart to tell him, yet another blogger found out her cancer spread. I looked at his hopeful face and reminded him I'm not any different from anyone else who hears bad news. We all want the same things. The same normal things.
I waited the next day for the phone to ring, in limbo. Short-tempered with my kids, zero desire to venture beyond my door. Unable to commit to anything, without knowing. I was hovering in purgatory between life as I know it or shit hitting the fan.
The longer I waited, the more freaked out I got. Convinced my doctor was waiting for all his patients to leave so he could speak to me undisturbed for however long it would take to explain this new development. With every minute, I was losing hope all would be fine. Mental bargining took over, knowing all the while, cancer doesn't care if I have children to raise.
How can this be anyone's new normal? Cancer was stealing days from me while I worried, went for tests, ignored my children, waited to hear. Just waiting, not living.
When he finally called to say all scans were clear, his description of choice was "normal." I was normal. I don't know about that. I know I was grateful. Grateful and relieved to depths no words can convey, but not normal. This sucks too much to be normal.
Relief didn't last long. Minutes after hanging up the phone, I wondered if he misread the reports. Probably not, but isn't it normal to wonder about such things?