Monday, May 24, 2010

Cancer Scares

They come more frequently than I would like. Greg will feel something down there that doesn't go away and will later tell me.

And as Greg tells me he's found a new lump (this has happened 4 times now, twice since his vasectomy)-- every time it is the same.

I can't speak for Greg. I don't know what his heart and mind go through when he finds something new. Inevitably he lets me know of what's going on while he is at work, so I am often alone with the kids when I find out.

And what I go through is starting to get familiar, but it is definitely not getting any friendlier.

I get this weird cold vibrating feeling that starts at the back of my head and travels down my neck--almost like someone put ice there.. at first the feeling is completely physical and I feel no emotion other than shock. And then I can't say anything for a minute. And then I say, "Are you sure?" And of course, he is sure. And then I try to reason with him--come up with some logical explanation for why there is a lump on his testicle (as if there is any "normal" reason for such a thing to happen). Then the panic sets in, and then I feel light-headed and like throwing up and then I start crying. And then I usually call one or both of my parents and weep to them ("What will HAPPEN to him????"). And they don't actually have the answers I think I need, and I am annoyed at myself for freaking them out before we really know anything. But it is good to hear their voices anyway.

But it stays like that--I feel insane and completely distraught for as long as we don't know Greg's ok.

And I plead with God--beg Him to let this not be happening again.

And I try not to, but I can't help it --I go ahead a month... three months... a year in my mind and imagine the inevitable stuff we will go through if it is what we don't want it to be. I see Greg recovering from another surgery, Greg's parents taking care of the kids--frazzled and scared, Greg going for more rounds of chemo (this time there will have to be more because it is a recurrence), Greg being violently ill because of an out-of-order immune system, Sam bringing home more illness from school, me staying up all hours of the night, sick myself with the kids sick too...

I skip imagining the Greg dying part--it's just too horrible to imagine. I go straight to me alone, having to figure out the bills, the mortgage, not having a job, moving back in with my parents, Greg's parents a painful reminder of their son...

Thoughts like this remain until Greg is able to see a doctor. And then Greg and I go to the doctor and the doctor will either say something reassuring or say they don't know for sure and Greg should go get an ultrasound to be sure.

We got lucky this time--Greg's doctor was so certain it was epididymal cyst, he didn't even send Greg for an ultrasound.

Seriously.. how many men can say they are relieved they have a cyst on their testicle? But we are always relieved by anything that isn't cancer.

"Oh, you mean it's just a cyst forming because of some traumatic injury to my epydidimus? Sweet!"

But we still want to be cautious about how we approach it, because hope is flighty and unreliable. We almost fear hope more than we fear cancer itself. Trust me--it is not better to have hoped and lost than not to have hoped at all. There is comfort in expecting the worst because the worst can never let you down.

But later on, the hope comes anyway. I find myself feeling a little lighter. And I thank God a million times, and hug 50 Greg times more often than normal, and I can play with the kids without feeling distracted, and I am breathing again.

It is good to get good news.

But...

I know many of my friends and family have actually been further down this road than I have ever been, and as a result, I often feel really jumpy in my reactions to Greg's bodily idiocyncracies. It makes me feel like I am being selfish because Greg *did* make it through the first time around. So many people don't get that lucky. Survivor's guilt.

I know I blow things way out of proportion. I know that deep down, I will always be paranoid of the words "lump" and "tumor" and that that is ridiculous. But sometimes, when you have been through something awful, your fear outweighs your mind. And you don't have any clue as to why you react the way you do--you just know that you are afraid.

And the fear is always there crouched in the corner of your brain. It gets smaller, but it never really does go away.. not completely. You end up wrapping your life around the fear instead. It is always there at the center, but it is cut off until the next scare. And then it grows and shrinks again--kind of like a tumor of its own.

1 comment:

colleen said...

While you have dozens of friends and family surrounding you in your moments of weakness and fear please know that my heart is with you and my prayers will always be right there with you! Whether it's an unfounded scare or a second round.

that numbness effects us all at one time or another when we realize that our best friends, partners, providers and loved ones are not immortal. Don't let that paralyze you from living every second as if it is the last!

A wise man once told me "quit looking in your rear view mirror. There is nothing there for you." (so wise I eventually married him) In this case you are looking in your rear view mirror and letting that fear paralyze you from living and enjoying each second even if it is your last. Embrace the fear, feel the pain then let it fly to the man who has the shoulders broad enough to carry the weight, when you just can't.

You are here to experience the happiness that life has to offer. Don't let fear rob you of even 1 millisecond you get!