During my cancer journey, I was hesitant to let too many people know before I had all of the facts. Since I let everyone know I was planning on Joining the Survivors Club, there have been many questions. In this "A Year Ago Today" Series, I will attempt to answer those questions and also work out what the hell happened this last year in my own head, heart and soul. Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, feel free to ask.
A few days ago, I revealed and reflected on how I was feeling a year ago when I first found out I had cancer. In order to keep the reading amount somewhat manageable, I decided to break it up into two parts. I left off at the whole "I found out I had cancer, got ice cream and went back to work" part.
My head was swimming and I was feeling a bit numb. Mike drove us over to TCBY and I tried to focus on what I would get there. I'd had been trying to eat better (I'm always trying to eat better, really) and so I pictured some kind of vanilla ice cream with lots of fruit. Once we sat outside to dig into our ice cream, Mike commented, "After that news, I'm not surprised to see all that chocolate." Vanilla...fruit...I just found out I had cancer...who was I kidding.
As we ate our ice cream, we finally found ourselves able to form coherent sentences. We went over what the doctor had said - found it early, got it all out, stage 1a, no chemo, just a follow up with an oncologist. We could handle that. We would do everything he told us to do, get the CAT scan, wait until Friday for the report, go see the oncologist. Figure it all out before telling the world. After all, if a person had cancer and didn't know it, does it even count? If a person had cancer and didn't need chemo, are they even a survivor? If a tree falls in the forest....you get the picture.
Mike and I have always seen ourselves as a team. We try to handle everything with the best attitude that we can, move through the bad and focus on the good. That is what we decided to do that day. Move through the bad and focus on the good. From what the doctor said, the bad was behind us. When we finished our ice cream and our conversation, I decided to go back to work. I could use the distraction, I would have to ask for some time off later in the week for the CAT scan and the people I work with are my friends.
I am not sure if going back to work was the right decision. I felt like if I didn't go back, everyone would worry. However, when I did go back, I think I shocked them. I walked into my boss' office and one of my co-workers was sitting there with him. Seeing me, they figured it had gone well and that it was safe to ask how it went. I hadn't really thought about how I would answer that question. I panicked a bit and then did the simplest thing there was to do, I told them the truth. I focused a lot on the "I will be fine part" reassuring them as much as I was reassuring myself. I would need a few days off for some follow up appointments but all in all, it wouldn't take up too much time. Mike and I would just do what they told us to do and then move forward, everything would be fine. They both responded that they were sorry to hear that and they knew I would be just fine (really what else do you say?). Then I got up and went back to my desk, getting a whole lot accomplished with my new found nervous energy.
To this day, I wonder what it was like to be on the other side of that conversation. I did my best to coat it as positively as I could, but they must of wondered what I was thinking, why I was back there, if I really would be okay. The conversation had to happen at some point, so I am hoping that getting it over with right away, as opposed to going home or lying, was a good solution.
Finding out I had cancer was a complicated situation. So I kept it simple whenever possible: keep moving forward, keep going for ice cream (we had a lot of fro-yo during this experience!) and when possible do whats normal.