To The Best Of My Memory…

I arrived at the doctor’s office 15 minutes early as requested. Hard to describe what I was feeling as I sat in the waiting room filling out the new patient paperwork.  A cross between fear and excitement.  My symptoms had gone full-blown since the severe pain days before.  I now had continuing abdominal pain – could no longer describe it as menstrual cramps.  And I was… hemorrhaging? I don’t know if that is the correct word for it.  I don’t want to frighten anyone reading this so I will take caution in my word selection here.  Unlike a normal period, what I was now passing was dark and thick. I could no longer deny that something was very wrong.  At the same time I was eager to finally get to the bottom of it and fix the problem.

Once back in the treatment room, the nurse went through the standards, weight, blood pressure, “what are you here for today?”  I gave the short version of the problems I’d been having.  The nurse left the room, I settled back with a magazine expecting the usual lengthy wait for the doctor. To my surprise she came in within a few minutes.  Sitting on the stool in front of me she said the nurse had filled her in a little, but asked me to give in more detail what was going on.  When I was finished speaking she put her hand on my arm and said she believed in being straight and just from my description, she was pretty sure it was cancer.

I had not thought I had cancer.  I had rationalized away every symptom I’d had.  Cancer wasn’t something I could rationalize away.

Somehow I sat there with a pleasant look on my face, nodded that I understood and made some comment that I appreciated her being upfront with me, that I could handle anything as long a I knew exactly what I was dealing with.

Next step was to do a pelvic exam, to take a biopsy to send for confirmation.  As soon as the exam began the doctor’s face went a bit white. She told me my cervix was completely obliterated,  had no resemblance to a cervix at all.  She finished up and left the room so I could clean up and get dressed.  The nurse came in the room a minute later to see if I needed any help.  That stuck me as odd, but I guess I didn’t have an idea yet what bad shape I was in.

When the doctor returned to the exam room, she told me there was no doubt that it was cancer, and that it was bad.  She said she had looked directly at tumor during the exam.  She also tossed in the obligatory statement that cervical cancer usually responded well to treatment, so although it was clearly advanced, if we acted immediately I had a chance for survival.  A very good friend of her’s happened to be the leading GYN Oncologist in the region.  She would call him personally that afternoon and go over the situation with him.  I was to call his office the following day to set up and appointment.  Meanwhile I was sent for a CT scan.  The goal was for a PET scan to see exactly how far the cancer had progressed, what other organs may be involved, but insurance dictated a CT must be done first to show the PET was necessary.

I didn’t fall apart or cry as you might expect from hearing such news.  It was as if a survival instinct kicked in and I went numb.  I closed my mind, turned off emotion, and focused on fact.  Tell me what, where, and when – and I’ll be there.  I did not allow myself to think beyond that.

The GYN Oncologist’s office called me before I was able to call them.  They gave me his next available appointment which I think was about ten days away.  A few days before that appointment, the GYN doctor I’d seen originally called me personally to let me know the biopsy results came back and as we already knew, it was cancer.  I remember very calmly telling her that I had an appointment scheduled with the oncologist she’d referred me to and thanked her for all her help.  She wished me well and we hung up.  I went into the bathroom and threw up for the better part of an hour.

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