I’m a 57 year old, twice-divorced woman. I have two beautiful children with beautiful children of their own. I have Chris, my acquired kid, whom I have loved for 15 years. I’m so thankful for so many humans and things and jobs and blessings and … And I have endometrial cancer.
I don’t really know how to start talking about this – it feels so new. Three weeks ago I was supposed to be walking a half-marathon. But I had been bleeding heavily for about a week, lightly for a few weeks before that. Instead of walking a half, I was given an ultrasound and was told three weeks ago today that I needed a hysterectomy.
You should have seen the epic meltdown. How could I leave my job for 6 weeks? We are in such a transition! How will I pay my bills? Yes, I’m very thankful for short-term disability but what will that look like? Who can help me? But I don’t like needing help. In fact, I despise needing help. I learned 50 years ago that needing help was a futile thing. But that’s whole different story.
Three weeks ago today, my GYN took a standard biopsy that would take a week to come back. She wasn’t worried. I had no risk factors. Standard procedure to clear before scheduling surgery. Once the pathology came back, surgery could be booked in a couple of days.
And a week it took. One very long, utterly stressful week. I was trying to get work prepped to be without me, as if I am some requirement for the walls to remain standing. Really, though I didn’t want to leave them stranded, making their days harder because of my lack of foresight.
By about Thursday of the week waiting for the pathology report to come back, I had a “feeling”. A couple of things shifted in me. I had become more accustomed to the idea of accepting help and being thankful to have it. Also, I realized somewhere deep that this wasn’t going to be easy. So when the call from the GYN came on Friday afternoon, I wasn’t 100% surprised when she told me she didn’t usually deliver this type of lab report over the phone.
Endometrial cancer is just a fancy term for uterine cancer. There are a few types of cancer of the uterus, I learned. And I was frustrated with my doctor that she hadn’t told me what ‘brand’ of cancer I have. (Insert more meltdown.) There are plenty of stories of this kind of thing being 100% healed with a hysterectomy, which I had finally come to grips with. But she didn’t reveal anything about my type of cancer. I wanted to know details! Finally, on Sunday, I called the on-call fella who said something about “serous” cells, but those were taking him back to his college days and he was rather vague about this too. I’m beginning to sense a pattern.
I was able to acquire my very own personal oncologist on Wednesday, 2.5 weeks after the planned half marathon. It was there that I learned that I have an aggressive form of this cancer thing, and that the 2″ tumor that I thought was a fibroid is not, likely, a benign thing at all. Aggressive. Tumors. Chemo and radiation a strong possibility. WTF???
Today is Friday. To say I’ve gone over the edge of reason is an understatement. I have been surrounded, truly, by so much love and support. I’m not alone, yet I’m not often comforted. My range of emotion is exhausting, even to this life-long consumer of anti-depressants. And let’s not forget that I am self-supporting by nature. Needing others is not a personal trait I endeavor to practice. I prefer to be the one giving the assistance.
Here I am, after two divorces, multiple years of therapy, and an assortment of mental health medication. I have my own apartment with two bedrooms and two queen beds. A dining room table and sofa and a big TV. I’ve learned to be content in my little desk/office at the front window, especially when the sun shines in. After years of being sedentary, I trained enough to survive a half marathon, of which I’m very proud. I’m slender, a little bit pretty, with really good hair. I assumed that through all of this, there would come along a man that could love me with all my beautiful warts and I could love him. I am, after all, worthy of this, right?
There have only been two men that I have lived with that have loved me unconditionally for an extended period. These two men have given me hope that not all men leave you, or lie to you, or end up hating you before you go your separate ways. These two men have lived with me and still love me. This is a path to hope, I think to myself. I’m lovable. I’m kind. I’m beautiful. And I’ve been pretty picky about who I let inside my personal space. I’m not very trusting and am not willing to wander into a relationship because they want me to. I get to choose. Or so I thought. Dreamed. Hoped.
The most difficult challenge I have is with who I’ve thought God to be. I have always sensed God deeply in who I am. This has provided a sense of guidance, of purpose – to love others as He loves me. But who is God, really, to bring me to this point of finally having some measure of mental and physical health, to leave me with this plague? It seems to me a cruel joke. We are still discussing it, He and I. We have not reached any point of resolution as yet.
Today, in the insanity that is within me, I hope that my surgery is completed once the doctor sees the CT scan results. I hope they don’t see so much cancer in me that they don’t want to take this vile, murderous stuff out of me just yet. I’m so afraid that I have to be done with my life before I’m ready. I try very hard to think that I’m not over yet, that there is hope for health and vibrancy ahead. For now, my only resource for hope is in the beautiful humans who love me. I’m not coming up with much on my own.
What a difference three weeks can make.