So I’ve been on this journey for a little over a week and it’s amazing how much my world has changed. New language (oncologists, stage 1, endoscopy…), new people (doctors, nurses, techs…) and new goals (surgery Monday, bloodwork, rest) have completely immersed me in this foreign world. I don’t want to get comfortable here. I plan to just visit for a while and move on as quickly as possible.
When I first got my diagnosis, I called a small handful of people. Tish Tucker was one of those. Tish is an amazing lady who listens, can still make me laugh in the middle of everything, has a deep and abiding love for rescue animals, and is a cancer survivor. At the end of this entry, I’ll link to both of her books about her journey. They are fabulous!) I have always loved and appreciated her friendship, but on the morning after my diagnosis, her advice became an incredible lifeline for me. One of the best things she told me was that this is a mind game. All of it. There’s so much in the middle of this journey that can get you down and spiral you into a bad place, you really need to fight to stay positive. I’m not even two weeks in, but I’ve held that advice close to my heart and I’m so thankful I did. Three new doctors this week – all of them with vast amounts of information that could have sunk me if I’d let it. Tests every day. Bruises all over the place from the bloodwork. It would be so easy to slide into that negative. I’ve always told people that I’m an obnoxious optimist. I guess that’s being put to the test right now.
I know so much more than I did a week ago and still feel like I don’t have any answers. Monday I’ll be having an initial surgery to assess precisely where and how large the cancer is. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about that. The biopsy on my tongue was really unpleasant and this is set to be bigger. But the hope and prayer is that this surgery shows that it’s smaller than imagined and that the previous recommendations of removing half my tongue and all this stuff out of my mouth will be unnecessary. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that the surgeon is concerned with my quality of life post-treatment.
Both the Oncologist and the Radiologic Oncologist were nice. (The Radiologic Oncologist – we’ll call him RO – was the spitting image of Kent McCord – as a Farscape fan, that tickled me to no end. Best part? His nurse reminded me of Edith Bunker. I think she may have been my favorite new person this week.) The Oncologist threw a ton of information at me and shared his thoughts about where this cancer came from at the same time he made sure to let me know he’s most concerned about my whole health. Anything anywhere that might be a concern needs to be brought to his attention. At this point, he’s the only one looking out for that, so it’s appreciated. The RO was hilarious. He had a great sense of humor that really helped put me at ease. (At one point he was joking and laughing and literally, out loud, muttered “Okay, this is serious. I have to get serious.” I offered him complimentary PR/Marketing services when we’re done with this whole thing.) My favorite part of his visit was when he said he hoped he would never have to see me again. I hope that too.
The biggest thing I’ve come away with this week is learning what to hold on to and what to let go. Even facts can’t be trusted. I’ve had multiple doctors tell me that it was a really great sign that the CT scans showed nothing, my lymph nodes were not swollen and didn’t show problems, and that everything else looks clear. But one doctor wiped all of that away by pointing out that it’s possible to have cancer in lymph nodes and have them not be swollen, CT scans don’t show everything, and it doesn’t matter that everything seems clear because cancer hides. So those facts that I’d held on to for hope and positive vibes went away in a heartbeat.
I’m separating the wheat from the chaff as I go. The information, knowledge and facts of men are helpful to me. God has placed them in my path for a reason and I do trust in that. But they aren’t the final authority. God’s got me in His hands and that’s where I find my rest, peace and security.
“Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” – Psalm 62: 1-2