The phone was going to ring. I could feel it. I could feel the energy in the back room of our store. My heart was like those hearts you see in cartoons. It felt like it was beating out of my chest. It felt like there was a long pause in between beats. Now my heartbeat was in my throat. I can’t breathe. I don’t know how much more of this I can take.
The nurse said they would call on Thursday. It was Thursday. It was 5:00pm. Did they forget about me? I wanted them to call and relieve my stress. I didn’t want them to call and confirm my fears. I wanted them to call and tell me it was nothing, that I was fine. I didn’t want them to call and say the “C” word.
The phone rang. I don’t’ want to answer it. I can feel the answer already. I don’t need to answer I already know.
“Hello, This is Dr. Frasier’s nurse”.
Why can’t I breathe? Why can’t I say hello back to this nice woman? Why did I just grunt out a strange sound, kind of like …lo? She is telling me she stayed late to get my test results. “I knew you would be worried and anxious to hear the results of your biopsy”. She took a breath, “ I am so sorry to have to tell you that the biopsy showed cancer”.
I am numb. I think this must be how it feels to be shot by a gun. Her words are the gun. She feels so bad. My voice is quivers. Why am I so fragile right now? I am scared? I feel like I am watching this scene from another place, a safe place. A place where cancer doesn’t exist.
I tell her I want to see the surgeon as soon as possible and I want to have the surgery as soon as possible. I have an appointment with the surgeon Tuesday.
She says there are no openings for the surgery, if that is what I decide to do, until after Thanksgiving. I can’t wait that long. I can’t have this in my body that long. She tells me there may be an opening next Friday if she moves a few things around.
I’ll take it.
You need to talk to Dr. Frasier first. Ok, I’ll talk to him on Tuesday and we can do the surgery Friday. She says ok. She says again that she is sorry. My voice is still trembling. I try to force out a pleasant thank you and hang up. I sob. Can you call it sobbing if you have tears coming down your face but you aren’t making any sound?
I don’t make sense as I try to tell my husband what the nurse said. I want him to hold me and comfort me and tell me I will be ok. I don’t remember any comforting words he may have said that evening. I don’t remember him holding me. I only remember how I felt. I always thought I was invincible. Cancer doesn’t happen to me. Cancer happens to other people. It is something I would read about but never encounter. Cancer is a death sentence. Cancer = Death.
I cry. I need a tissue for my nose. What am I going to tell my kids? They will be so scared. They found out two months ago that their grandmother has pancreatic cancer. She was not doing well. I know one thing: I don’t want to die.
Please hold me. Please tell me I am going to be ok. Please.