What's That You Said???
I'll never forget the day I received the results of the extensive cancer testing that had been done. My husband went with me to the appointment and our kids were in school.
The oncologist walked into the room, welcomed us, and took a seat on a little round stool that swiveled. He asked how we were doing, flipped through charts, then grew serious.
"We've got the results of all your tests back," he said. He drew close to both of us and looked at me. "I'm sorry to report that you have a blood disease," he said, "called Waldentrom's Macroglobulinemia."
My mother had died of cancer, and my dreaded fear was that this would be cancer, so I relaxed a bit when I didn't hear that word.
Hmmm.....I thought. That didn't sound too bad. A blood disease...not cancer? But he did say sorry...why did he say he's sorry?
"The way we treat it today, in 1995," he continued, "is you take a handful of pills once a month...."
Pills. No big deal. Easy. I can do that.
He continued..."called chemotherapy...."
I caught my breath. What? Chemotherapy? Was this cancer? It was just a blood disease, right?
The oncologist presented the information in such a calm manner. It felt like there was no reason to panic...so I didn't.
Joe and I clung to his every word.
"However," the oncologist said. "In your case, it is in it's early stages and it isn't causing damage to your system, so we are going to wait to treat you. We have one bullet to attack it with, and we want to wait to use it when it's most effective."
He waited for us to digest those words before continuing.
"We'll need you to come back on a regular basis," he said. "We will monitor your condition by routine blood work and office visits to see how you are doing and decide when to administer treatment."
Relief washed over me! He made it sound so simple! I'm pretty much a spontaneous, live-in-the-moment kind of person, so this sounded like great news! I didn't have to do anything but return in three months? No treatments now to interrupt my life? Happy dance!
Besides that, I had been leaning into my faith since my brother's death in recent years. I'd learned that, while things don't always go my way, God is trustworthy, not matter what happens, even in the event of death.
As Joe and I walked to our car, we were joking and laughing. We were so relieved. Just before we exited the parking garage, I looked at my beloved husband and my voice grew serious. "Do you realize what he just told us?"
Joe paused, then nodded. "Yes," he said. "Yes, I do."
We both fell silent.
Within moments, however, we were laughing again. With a flip of the wrist, I talked about buying groceries for our upcoming trip. We had plans to travel out-of-state the following week with the kids to visit family for Thanksgiving. Happily, our plans wouldn't change.
Suddenly, I remembered the prophetic thought that popped into my head that very morning at Mass: God, are you trying to tell me that the diagnosis won’t be good news, but that everything is going to be okay?
Amazing, isn't it? That message was right on.
It wasn't the best of news, but, at least for now, it would be alright.