Updated: Feb 7, 2022
Finding out you have cancer is hard enough as it is, but finding out you have cancer two days before a major holiday is even worse. When the dreaded "C-Word" is mentioned, things work quickly...at least behind the scenes. However, for those of us living it, it moves at a snail's pace and you live in an emotional limbo while you wait for test results to continue rolling in, CT scans to get scheduled, oncology referrals to go through, and a ridiculous amount of other....just....medical noise to happen before you can have answers.
The thoughts that went through my head before more results came in were mostly about my grandmother who also had colon cancer. She was symptomatic when she was diagnosed. I remember being there and it being scary, but I also remember that they got every single piece of that cancer and that she was totally okay. I continued being numb, and waited. There was so much waiting.
The wonderful surgical OB called me to check in on me, and let me know the remaining pathology and biopsy results. The cancer had spread to the ovary they had removed and my uterus. They still couldn't stage it with those results, but my CT scan was scheduled for the next week and she assured me that while it seemed like nothing was happening she was constantly checking to make sure everyone was talking to each other and that her orders for the tests and scans had gone through and been scheduled.
The next week I had labs done, one to check if I could have immunotherapy and another to make sure I wouldn't be allergic to the dye used for the CT scan. I wasn't allergic, so the CT was done the next day without any problems....well, except for the results. Once again, I got the results through the web portal before a doctor could call. This time I didn't Google, but asked a friend who is an Oncologist in Boston for his interpretation.
I feel badly for asking him this now. I could hear it in his voice, not wanting to tell me. The CT showed the tumor on my colon is right where my small intestine and large connect (and my appendix). It's not gigantic but it's also not small. It also showed mets to (as previously noted above) my uterus, my remaining ovary, lymph nodes, and my liver.
Listening to my friend carefully trying to word "terminal" instead with "there is no cure" with liver mets was excruciating. Not because I'm scared, but because I had to put someone I care deeply for in that position to have to tell me that.
And then, at the same time there was my sweet husband, next to me, hearing this and I watched as he just broke. I can't even begin to tell you what that felt like, seeing the love of your life crumple before you. Knowing he was seeing everything we've planned for our future together changed and potentially erased. Knowing he is the kind of person that tries to fix everything, but that he couldn't "fix" me. Covid created a huge pivot in our lives, and that, that was hard enough to work through, but this......this was larger than a pivot. How were we going to cope with this?
And so, we got off the phone with my dear friend, and together we cried for hours. Stage IV Colorectal Cancer was our new reality and somehow, we would find a way to deal with it, but for now, we just needed each other.