I got a phone call recently and it was a phone call in which I was sure I was going to need my waterproof mascara.
I hate those kind of calls.
Especially when they’re about you.
For some reason I felt the need to not wear my mom uniform of yoga pants and whatever dri-fit or team shirt was nearest (very much like what I am wearing right now in fact), instead I felt the need to take the extra couple seconds and shower, put on a sundress and the “going out” lipstick.
I rifled through my makeup to find my waterproof mascara and I couldn’t find it anywhere.
I started to get mad.
Like really mad. Violently mad. And I started to cry.
I dumped the sack of makeup on the counter and rifled through the mess.
It was nowhere.
I needed to put on mascara, so I just put on enough to not have powdery eyelashes and not enough to look like Tammy Faye when I got there and couldn’t hold myself together.
I don’t know why it was so important to me to look good on this day but it probably had something to do with the feelings of crap I was having on the inside and when you look better on the outside, perhaps in some warped way I feel like I have a fighting chance at least of feeling better on the inside at some point. When the outside matches the inside for me, then I know things have really gotten bad. I.e. postpartum depression, the flu, things like that, all examples of when I just gave up on the outside because nothing was going to work, and eventually I’d find crumpled up day-before underwear in the foot of my three-day-old footie pajamas.
Those days might come, but this is not one of them so I’m wearing a dress. Dammit.
So even though I didn’t have enough time to wash my hair, I was able to shape it nice enough for my makeshift bun in the back and feel like I was clean and presentable.
I was ready to hear whatever she was going to tell me.
I drove all shaky-like and screamed out loud a couple of times.
Then I pulled it together at the last minute, sat down in the room with a dry face and her face said it before her mouth did.
“It’s bad,” she said.
Now let me interrupt for a second just to say that I appreciate when doctors are frank with you and tell you like it is right from the get-go. But I think I could have done without the second, “It’s bad.” When a doctor actually says, “It’s bad,” once is usually enough.
I took a deep breath. I needed to hear how bad.
I thought I was ready to hear this, when your doctor calls you and tells you to come in and “Is now a good time?” then you know pretty much know already it is not good.
But there really isn’t much you can do to prepare to hear this. Except perhaps wear your damned waterproof mascara.
She said a few words I couldn’t understand and then drew a picture of a vagina, uterus and cervix on a piece of paper and underlined the cervix part.
She said the words I couldn’t understand again and I said, “I’m going to need you to write that down,” as I realized in my franticness to get out of the house, I hadn’t brought my notebook and I bring notebooks to everything, they are (usually) in my car, my purse, my laptop bag, my desk, my bedside table…
So she began to talk some more and sometimes when someone is telling you something you know is really important and really bad all the words string together and you can only pick out key words and the rest just sort of fall to the side, labeled, “unimportant.”
What she was saying was: Cervical Cancer.
She said some more words that stood out.
Invasive. Versus non-invasive.
I think it’s about that time that the tears began to fall freely.
I can’t really explain how I felt at that moment except to say it stunned me and I lost all feeling in my hands and I felt 100 tons of pressure on my chest.
I probably turned a pale white because she asked me if I needed to call my husband or did I have someone who could come get me.
Of course I’m not going to call my husband at work and tell him I have cancer, I said, that’s absurd.
And she said, “You have to. I’ll give you a minute.” And she left.
And so I sat there in that cold room, by myself, shivering and in shock and trying to figure out what on earth I was going to do. Do I really call him at work?
So I slowly dialed my husband. It was the weirdest phone call I’ve ever made, I’ll tell you that much right now, calling my husband up at work to tell him she found cancer. I mean, that’s ridiculous! Who does that?
And who wants to get that phone call at work? It seemed entirely inappropriate.
Then again, I probably really should have brought him. It’s not like I didn’t know what she was going to say. (We can laugh about it now, right? Not yet? OK. But sometimes I find that making fun of The Cancer makes me feel better. Is that not appropriate? So, The Cancer walked into a bar… What. Not funny?)
I never in a million years thought I would write that word in reference to myself, by the way. Or perhaps I did solely because cancer has literally touched everyone in my family in some way or form. Did I think I would escape it? Yes, actually. Yes I.DID.
So today as I read the words over and over again and I’ve had a chance to digest some of them, I have come to know that the word “invasive” makes me really fucking pissed.
Also so does Googling ANYTHING. And so I don’t.
I did it once and I nearly shut down. (Don’t you go and do it either. Seriously.)
I suppose the real first thing that I thought when the doctor told me the news was, “Oh snap. Shit just got real.”
Apparently my inner monologue also does “three snaps in a Z formation.”
So. What’s next, right? I go to the oncologist on Wednesday to see how invasive, if at all. He will test the surrounding lymph nodes to see if it has spread. My ob-gyn believes that a hysterectomy is in the cards no matter what, and that’s pretty devastating for me considering I was hoping to add to our family really soon. I guess God has other plans.
I sound like I am matter-of-fact right now but really I am a robot. I have my moments but I am determined from this point forward to make each moment count with my family. To stop worrying about the shit that doesn’t matter. And to have everything continue as normal as possible for as long as possible. Which hopefully means forevermore.
Obviously I’m praying real hard for the non-invasive kind. (And if you would kindly make that request in your prayers, too, I would be forever grateful.)
I have told most of my closest friends and family because well, first, they needed to know, but also because I knew oddly that there would be no way I would not be able to write this post. There is only so much room in my head for words until it feels like it is going to explode and it already feels like that. In fact, I’ve been frozen on my blog not knowing what to post because there is only one thing I’m thinking about right now and it’s this.
So here it is, friends.
Here is where my life got real. I mean really real. FIGHTING REAL.
I’m not going down without a fight. No one and nothing can make me leave my family without some serious kicking and screaming (biting, pulling hair, all of it).
Oh I am ready.
I’m mad now.
So BRING IT ON.
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