Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary.
Oops – I think that beginning has already been taken.
In November, I was diagnosed with cancer in my left breast. Yes – me folks.
It takes a while for an announcement like that to sink in, especially when you’ve been told by everyone performing the multiple mammograms and the needle biopsies that there is nothing to worry about. Then you get “that call” from your doctor, the unfortunate person who has to deliver the blow, with the accompanying apology of “I’m sorry, but it turned out to be cancer.”
The first few days after receiving this news are filled with an assortment of emotions and thoughts – including denial, fear and anger. Throughout angst-filled days and sleepless nights, one tries to absorb all of this, as you wait for the first (of many) doctor’s appointments to come. Your mind runs wild with possibilities, none of them very favorable. You think about what you did to cause this. Was it the food I ate? Living an unhealthy lifestyle? Some random gene run amuck? A pathetic cry for attention? Or maybe karma? Yeah, that must be it, Marion. Payback for something I did wrong in a prior lifetime.
You sort through all these possibilities, and in the end, decide that the “why” really doesn’t matter at this stage of the game. You are facing a significant challenge, and it’s time to take charge, get informed and make some rational decisions.
It is a natural progression to take the step that the medical profession hates – you get on the internet. And after reading what’s online, if you weren’t scared before, you’re convinced it’s time to get your medical power of attorney in place. The web is a wonderful place to obtain information, as long as you temper your search by challenging what you are reading for its authenticity. I chose to believe, or not believe, the information presented based on the idea that “if it makes sense to me, then it’s right for me.”
I came to learn throughout this process, which I am writing about in this blog series, that we have given away too much power to the disease – and the word – cancer. Many people speak about it in terms of “how long do I have to live.” Diagnoses of heart disease, diabetes and other debilitating diseases are rendered every day, yet none bear the stigma or fear that cancer does. I would like to be a part of changing that perception.
And somewhere in the midst of all of this, I asked that question we all ask – why me? I would talk to God at night (or whoever it is up there listening). I asked him why it was me that had to go through this, when I had already been through so much in my lifetime. When I was done feeling sorry for myself, I quieted my mind, and I waited. Then from someplace, either inside or outside of my head, I heard these words.
And why not you, Marion?
I was in no frame of mind for one of these esoteric, spiritual communications from somebody I couldn’t see, and whose existence I now questioned. Ironically, that message was delivered to me the day after the surgeon I met with said he needed to go in and cut out the tumor in my left breast. Based on what I heard from the Master of the Universe and my surgeon, I had a lot to think about.
So I did what was right for me at the time. I put God’s message on hold (at least for the time being) and I ignored the doctor. Instead of going in for surgery, I decided to go on my dream vacation – Australia and New Zealand. Yes, I needed to go to the Middle Earth where the Hobbits lived. Those little guys always died of old age – not cancer. I wanted to find out what their secret was!