Some of you may remember this series from when I was actually going through treatment back in 2011 and 2012. For those of you who don’t, spoiler alert, I’ve been cancer free going on five years now! That said, I’ve been rereading my old posts and noting how incomplete they are. So as practice for writing and to give my story the complexity it deserves, I’m going back to the beginning, to tell it again.
. . .
When I went to my appointment that sunny, spring day in 2011, I told my husband not to come. He offered, but there was only a two percent or so chance that the nodule found on my thyroid was cancerous; we were not concerned. I met with the physician’s assistant who was all smiles and he repeated what my primary care doctor had already said as he pulled up the results of the imaging I’d had the previous week; Roughly fifty percent of women get thyroid nodules and of that fifty percent, ninety eight percent or so are benign. Then he looked at his computer screen and was quiet a moment before turning to face me and saying,
“I am as sure as I can be without a biopsy that you have thyroid cancer.”
I will remember those words forever because they were the end of everything and the beginning of everything else.
I sat unseeing, unfeeling, and certainly not hearing while he talked a bit more, felt my neck, then had me go sit in another waiting area until the scheduler was available. She handed me a blue folder filled with information about thyroid cancer and the surgery I would need. In blue ink, she hand wrote my surgery date (set for three weeks later) in the upper, right-hand corner, smiled and sent me on my way.
Outside, in the parking lot, I sat staring at nothing and wondering what to say to my family.
In the end, I called my husband, told him, then let him know I couldn’t come home right away. I needed to be alone, to think, to not be touched, to not be looked at with sad eyes. He offered to tell my parents for me and I let him; I didn’t think I could.
In hindsight, I find it funny that I took myself to the mall. I’ve never really liked the mall, particularly after working there, but in that moment, being around lots of people but not having to look at or talk to any of them was exactly what I needed.
To be continued . . .