While I Was Living… Then THIS

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Photo by Chuk Nowak

April 5, 2016

I heard a crash coming from my home office. No one was in my office, neither had anyone been in there recently. It happened 15 minutes before I was to start filling my bladder with water for an early morning ultrasound, the second of two medical tests. I looked toward the crash and saw broken glass scattered on the carpeted floor. A picture had fallen off the wall.

IMG_6196It was the photo of 12-year-old me taken at an elementary school sock hop—the year I started my menstrual cycle. I’d moved the photo higher on the wall three months earlier to make room for another picture. My first thought was, That’s a sign and it’s not a good one.

I put the picture and frame to the side and swept away those thoughts as I picked up the glass and vacuumed the floor, while trying to keep Dot, my little terrier-poodle, from investigating the debris. Finally, I closed the door to keep her out.

To quell the negative thoughts, I concluded the picture hanger simply became loose and could no longer support the frame. Yeah. That was it.

Then there was another oddity. On my way out, I realized my son’s car wasn’t parked in the driveway or in front of the house, though his keys were on the hook where he kept them. I woke him with the question no one wants to be asked: “Where’s your car?”

It had been stolen. Yet, I couldn’t stay to help him through the problem. I had to make my appointment. While I prepared to leave, my best friend/neighbor thankfully came out to assist my son.

Despite the morning’s problems, I made my way to the hospital on time. I signed in, waited, and was called to register when I learned I was in the wrong building. At least there was a shuttle to take me to the right location, and I’d still be on time, all with a full bladder.

For the most part, the external and internal ultrasound was pretty painless, and afterward I went to work. At the end of my work day, I went to my mother’s house where I found my sister-in-law and told her about the procedure.

“If they’d found anything, you would’ve gotten the call by now,” she said.

I breathed easier.

April 6

Late for work as usual, I drove through the gray, rainy morning. My cellphone rang; and although I didn’t recognize the number, I answered.

“Hi. This is Andrea.”

“Hi, Ms. Daniel. Since you said your first name, I don’t have to ask you. This is your gynocologist. But I do have to confirm your birthday.”

I gave him my date of birth.

“Ms. Daniel, I need you to come in and see me as soon as possible.”

I heard the picture crash.

I told the doctor I’d be right there, then called my boss to let him know I’d be late. He didn’t answer. I sent him a text: “I just got an emergency call from my doctor and have to go in to his office. I’ll go in to work afterward.” His response: “OMG. I hope you’re OK.”

I desperately wanted to talk to my sister, but she was training out of town. So, I sent her the same text I sent my boss, minus the part about going in to work.

Then, I called my best friend. When she didn’t answer, I realized she was in her exercise class. So, I sent her the same text.

I called my cousin, who answered. Thank goodness. I told her I got “The Call.” She jumped into support mode and said me she’d meet me at my doctor’s office. But I couldn’t give her the address. He rotated offices and I’d only been there once. I didn’t even know where I was going. I needed to get off the phone and get off the freeway to look it up.

Pulling into the a station, I lost it. “The Call” was not what I wanted. I picked up my phone again and saw a text from my sister, “I just tried to call you. Call me back.” Why hadn’t I heard the phone ring inside my purse?

When we connected, she let me cry and ramble and cry more.

“The Call” had instilled an unimaginable kind of fear—a tight chest, trembling and mind-wandering kind of reaction. “I’m scared,” was pretty much the extent of my rambling.

At the same time, I somehow managed to get the doctor’s address to my cousin. While my sister offered to stay on the line while I drove, I needed to focus on Siri’s directions. She agreed, though to be on speakerphone while I talked to my doctor. I was so grateful for technology that day.

A name for the symptoms

At 54, I was two years menopausal; but since July 2015, my body behaved otherwise. I experienced periodic cramping, moodiness and slight spotting, as if my menstrual cycle had returned. So, that’s what I thought it was. I told my family doctor about it and she suggested we monitor things. Later, however, I read that once menopause hits, it is NOT supposed to reverse.

The symptoms became particularly troublesome earlier in 2016 when the cramping increased, though the spotting hadn’t changed in frequency or flow. A visit to my gynocologist at that time was thwarted because of extremely high blood pressure and slight chest pain, sending me to the emergency room. It turned out I was experiencing a horrible case of indigestion. I had also been extremely upset over the Flint water crisis, and the academic and structural devastation happening in the Detroit Public Schools.

My gynecologist, during a mid-February visit, said it could be nothing or it could be serious. The only way to determine the issue was to have a biopsy and an ultrasound. The biopsy was in March and the ultrasound was in, well, April. And I was banking on it being nothing.

I settled into the examining room for the April 6 follow-up, got my sister on the phone, and, though my cousin hadn’t arrived, I told my doctor to begin.

“We got all your tests back, Ms. Daniel, and all indications show you have endometrial cancer.” He paused, seeing the question mark on my face. It wasn’t like I didn’t know where my endometrium was, but hearing the word cancer threw all knowledge out my mind. He continued, “You have a cancerous tumor in your womb and will have to have a complete hysterectomy.”

With that, I saw my 12-year-old me photo shattered on my office floor. Tears rolled down my cheeks.

When my cousin arrived and put her arm around me, he backtracked a bit. Then he put his hand on my knee, and added the type of cancer I had was highly curable with a high survivor rate.

“So, if I was to get any cancer this is the best one to get?” I asked, strangely trying to lighten the moment.

We all chuckled as he replied, “Yes.”

For a moment, I felt relieved.

Right there in his office, he called in a referral for me to the oncologist he trained under, who was at Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit and scheduled my pre-surgery consultation for the following Monday, April 11.

By my doctor (1) placing his hand on my knee, which was oddly comforting, and (2) scheduling my consultation, I felt secure and well taken care of, feelings I earnestly needed.

 

Part 2 – Hovering Over Pause coming soon.

14 Comments
  1. This was extremely honest. You have my deepest respect always.

  2. I’m so sorry you have had to deal with the awful, terrible monster that cancer is and the suffering that comes from doctors trying to remove it. I have prayed for you often, Andi, and will continue. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Hi Joanne,

      Thank you for your prayers. They have definitely worked. I’ve prayed for you and your family as well.

      I appreciate you reading and commenting.

      Love,
      Andi

  3. I have not had the cancer diagnosis, but I have been diagnosed with heart disease after an ultrasound. It is a scary process to go through. I decided to go to a Functional Medical Doctor for a second opinion, and learned many ways I could heal and maybe even reverse what was happening to my heart. I have had to change many eating habits I had, but it has been worth it. I get another MRI in June to see if what I have been doing is working for me. I am determined to stay away from surgery. Wish you all be best in your quest for health. Remind yourself to take a deep breath.

    • Hi Karen,

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I admire you for going a different route to avoid surgery and going for healing through holistic methods. I’ll send up prayers and good vibes for your healing. If you remember, please send me an update on your progress.

      And I love your reminder to take deep breaths. I appreciate that.

      Andrea

  4. You are truly one of my sheros, and I just love it when your soul sings. Be well my sista. <3

  5. Aw, thank you Dana. I love you for reading and commenting. And I’m so glad we’re still friends after all these years. Love you.

  6. You have come so far in a year. Well done soldier xxxoooo

  7. I thank God for the medical community and the miraclulous advances they have made in the treatment of the disease processes that many people are afflicted with. I have mental health challenges and been in remisssion for the past 38yrs. There can be nothing as devastating as to lose touch with reality. But through the advances in medicine I have been able to live a full and productive life. No one reall wants to be sick but things can and will happen whether we want it to or not. But we must trust in God and those that he place in our path to help us. Keep looking up and stay encouraged.

    • Hi Calvin,

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. You’re so right, no one really wants to be sick, but trusting in God keeps us moving forward. I pray all good things for your life.

      Take care,
      Andrea

  8. A tear jerker as I expected—tears of joy that you are here to share your heart and life stories. You ALWAYS shine through no matter what! Continued health and wealth to you, FGS! ❤

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