Before my appointment on Friday, my anxiety level was as high as I think it’s been through this whole mess. I’m not sure why…..I’ve seen doctors plenty of times before. Yet, I was calmer going into the biopsies, scans, and blood tests than I was going into this appointment. Perhaps because this is where the rubber meets the road. We’ve done all of the investigating there is to do, and now the time has come to face the reality of my situation.
In the waiting room, I end up sitting across from a man, who I suspect is younger than me, who has brain cancer. I know this because his wife tells the entire story to another lady sitting with us. I’m amazed at what this man has been through and seems to be doing relatively well. I also think about how lucky I am. Things could be so much worse.
After waiting for a good 30 minutes past our appointment time, Mark and I go back to Dr. H’s office. It’s taken some time to warm up to Dr. H., but I am liking him more and more. He comes in and gives us quite the show. He pulls up all of the scans, x-rays, etc. and I get to see a very complete picture of my insides. Quite fascinating actually. Dr. H. points out the area of concern on my vertabrae. The biopsy results reveal that it is breast cancer that has moved to my bone. That’s the bad news. The good news is, that the cancer is estrogen/progesterone receptor positive. In other words, the cancer is likely to respond to an array of different drugs specifically designed to starve the cancer of estrogen and progesterone. However, before going on these drugs, we must first deal with the tumor on the spine. So first up will be radiation. This will hopefully kill the tumor on the vertabrae and protect my bone. It will take 10-15 treatments and I’ll be meeting with the radiation oncologist next week. I’ve done radiation before. It’s actually very easy, especially in comparison to chemotherapy. I can’t say I’m excited about it, but I’m not afraid either.
Throughout the entire appointment, there is one question I want to ask, but can’t seem to spit it out. It’s rolling around in my mind, it’s on the tip of my tongue, I just can’t say it. I want to ask Dr. H, “How long do you think I have to live?” Maybe I can’t say it, because I can’t really face the answer. Instead, I manage to ask, in a very indirect way, by making a statement, “Well, Dr. H., I hope I get to be your patient for a very long time.” His response was “Oh, you will be…..in fact you’ll probably have to break in a new doctor after me.” This response gave me more hope, more strength, and more courage than anything else so far. I’m very grateful for that response because it was exactly what I needed to hear. Hope is so important. It may not be the only thing that is keeping me going right now, but it’s the most important thing. I HOPE for more quality years with my family. I HOPE for more years of teaching. I HOPE for success in controlling this disease. And most of all, I HOPE for a cure so that others in the future are spared from this terrible experience.