I'm just sayin'

Diagnosis; Stupid

on June 21, 2012

As a cancer survivor I have empathy for those first receiving news of a cancer diagnosis. When my doctor first told me I had breast cancer I thought, did I hear her right? For me and I emphasize the ‘for me’ part because we all have our own coping mechanism, I remember thinking of all the shenanigans I participated in throughout my life this is how I’m going to die? What is up with that? I thought I’d die skydiving when I’m ninety when the whole dying thing is sooner than later. But nooo, I thought, I’m going to die just like thousands and thousands of cancer-stricken people do each year.

Receiving the diagnosis was a little different for me than most people because the doctor who told me thought I had already been told by the radiologist. So we were both shocked for different reasons; she realizing her blunder and me just finding out while standing in a waiting room. After the shock of learning I had breast cancer I asked the doctor, “What do I do next?”  She directed me to a surgeon. I called the surgeon right away and she couldn’t get me in for six days. I thought that seemed like an eternity. I couldn’t believe I had six days to walk around with cancer growing inside me. Take into consideration, by the time cancer is found in a person the cancer has been there growing without knowledge of it, for perhaps, years. So theoretically, what’s six days in the whole scheme of things? (That’s easy to say now.) When you’re in that moment it’s so easy to let your mind wander to the not-so-good-side to having cancer; like dying. Well, in those six-days of waiting I spent time with family and friends. I spent time at home. I tried to live as I normally would, cooking, cleaning, laundry all the while thinking I might die – soon. But not once do I recall thinking, I should sell the house, take all my friends on a Mediterranean Cruise, buy a racehorse, run with the bulls in Pamplona and buy that $500 ticket to see Garth Brooks. Maybe I should have been thinking along those lines instead of spending time with family and friends. Apparently, 69-year-old Frank from New Zealand was thinking along those lines.

Frank was diagnosed in May 2010 with terminal cancer. He and his wife Wilma sold their house at a loss. They took the money and spent it on vacations. They gave away Frank’s tools, clothes and other belongings he wouldn’t need on ‘the other side’. They gave away twenty-four thousand dollars. I’m not sure why Wilma was willing to do all that, she wasn’t diagnosed with terminal cancer. What did she plan on doing when Frank took that eternal dirt nap? Was she planning on living with her kids who most likely took the monetary gifts and bought themselves a house without mother-in-law quarters? Did Wilma think her daughters-in-law wouldn’t notice the extra seat at the table? Or the over-sized old lady underwear in the dirty laundry? Nevertheless, Wilma and Frank were spending away, savoring the last days of dear Frank’s life. After a while when Frank hadn’t died or shown signs of dying he was retested and it was discovered ol’ Frank had been misdiagnosed. He wasn’t dying after all. Well, maybe just a little on the inside since he had no home, no job, no tools even if he had a job, no money. WTHeck?

It’s a good thing I didn’t take Frank’s path. If I thought I was really terminally ill, I would probably have fewer friends and family to deal with today, because I am not one of those people who say, “I hope I die in my sleep.” Heck no. I want to know I’m checking out because I have a few things I’d like to say to a handful people in my life, but not right now. We Virgo’s are baby-steppers; we don’t usually jump into situations without a backup plan. I am not giving my stuff away until I’m in that hospital bed sipping Ensure with a flexi-straw. Then y’all can divvy up what’s left of my modest possessions. I’m just sayin’! 




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