One year ago today I was sitting somewhere I never expected to be, hearing words I never wanted to hear, knowing that my life was suddenly and irrevocably changing.
Two days before, December 21, I was driving the car. Sam was in the passenger seat, which is unusual for us, but he had just had some dental work done and was pretty woozy from pain medicine. I remember he was actually pretty cute and funny, and I was laughing at how he was talking. My cell phone rang and the caller ID said it was my doctor’s office. I had recently had a test to see if I had gallbladder problems. When I answered, instead of the nurse who usually called with results, my doctor was on the phone. She told me my gallbladder was fine but they had found some other things they wanted checked out by a specialist, and they had made an appointment for me on Thursday. I told her I couldn’t make it on Thursday, we were leaving for Illinois for Christmas and I would reschedule for after we came home. Her answer was the moment where my world started to change. She said, “No, it can’t wait that long. You need to see the specialist Thursday.”
The word “stunned” is used so frequently, but it truly describes how I felt at that moment. Like something hard had hit me, and I couldn’t feel anything, or think about anything. I asked the only question that I could, although in my heart I knew what I was going to hear. “What kind of specialist?”
“She’s an oncologist-hematologist.”
Everything rushed away from me. The only thing that I could think or say was “I’m driving a car. I’m driving a car.” I handed the phone to Sam, who took the details about the appointment and location, and somehow I drove home. I remember nothing about driving but obviously got us home without disaster.
December 23, one year ago today, we packed the car with our suitcases and gifts, and before we headed east for Christmas, made a stop at the oncologist-hematologist. She was (and is) a wonderful, sensitive and caring person, who explained things in detail and made sure that all our questions were answered. She was very honest and let us know that the probability was that I did have cancer, and that we would start running tests as soon as I returned from Christmas.
Then we left the office, got in the car, and drove toward the unknown life that lay ahead for us.