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If I Had Patience

“If I had patience, I’d be a doctor.” It is an absurd play on words, sprinkled with a bit of irony because it takes patience to be a patient in today’s world of modern medicine.

In three days I will have a biopsy, one that has been scheduled and rescheduled twice. The chosen radiologist refused to touch my tumor, deeming the procedure too risky based on its size and position. Another doctor, more experienced and bold, agreed to attempt it, but the hospital failed to notify me in time to stop taking my blood thinners. They say that the third time is the charm, so I am working on getting into the right frame of mind for this. I am not going to lie; I am nervous about it.

I have met with my gynecological oncologist, who remains upbeat and positive. I appreciate his attitude, especially since mine sometimes takes a nosedive. I am certain that I am in good hands with him, even if the treatment plan comes a little slower than I’d like. I am learning to be still and wait. It isn’t an easy lesson, and somehow I have to keep repeating it, but I know it is a powerful one.

There is talk of chemotherapy and surgery, but much is to be determined by the pathology report. A group of twelve doctors will meet to discuss my case and map out the best route to get me back into remission. I feel special, even if to them I am only a name on a very thick chart. Maybe they will spot something medically fascinating as they study my scans and labs.

So much of this battle in mental. It is easy to play “what ifs” and to allow doubt to creep in, stealing every bit of joy and serenity. I try not to allow myself to think of the worse, but truth be told, it is often a struggle to remain optimistic. Some days are easier than others, but that is true for all of us, even those who are not fighting a terminal illness.

I have discovered that while some folks can contain their emotions, wrap them in a tiny package and go on about their days, I am not one of those people. I feel things strongly, whether it is sadness or joy. So for the past two weeks, I have allowed this change of events to just sit with me as I process the news. My cancer has returned. It is a sobering bit of reality.

Emotions are like a train passing through a tunnel. In order to get anywhere, the train has to chug along until it reaches the other side. It does no good to stop mid-route. And so, between the tears and anger, the wallowing in self-pity and calming my fears, I have discovered peace. It is there that I am reenergized and my resolve returns.

I try not to look back on the past twelve months with regret. I didn’t finish the novel I started, nor did I make quick work of my travel bucket list. My attic and basement are still a mess. But my faith has grown, along with a deeper understanding of the power of love. I have learned who cares for me. And I did strengthen my bonds with some remarkable women who gathered around me to celebrate my reclaimed life. I had three-hour lunches and weekends with my girlfriends. We tasted wine and laughed like teenagers. I am grateful for those moments. And, God willing, I have lots more fun and frivolity awaiting me. Life is designed to be lived one day at a time. I am reminded of that as I greet each morning.

If I am lucky, I'll get to keep my hair a little longer. It is wild and curly, but I am becoming quite attached to it. And in the meantime, I am still working on patience. Wish me luck!

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