Well, I did it. It took me the better part of a week to work up the courage and organize my myriad thoughts and fears into intelligent questions, but yesterday I finally made the phone call and scheduled my follow-up visit with my oncologist. I'll be having a CT scan the same day — Friday, April 18. Two weeks from today. This is the appointment where I will learn the success of last September's surgery, where the doctor will tell me whether I am cancer-free. I'll have to repeat it every four months for the next five years. I can't tell you how scary and nervewracking this is. How scared and nervous I am. Steve is scared too, but also optimistic. He has such faith that our doctor got the tumor out completely and that if anything new crops up, we'll catch it early this time instead of letting it go for five-some years (which is how long the doctor said the old tumor had been inside me).
This week of bonding with Ben and watching Daniel adjust to brotherhood has been for the most part happy. In fact, there are oxytocin-fueled moments when I feel as if I've never been happier and more content in my life. But around the edges, there are tinges of bittersweet when I think about the possible outcomes of my health. I wish I didn't have to imagine the possibilities. I wish I didn't have to wonder if the sweet, fragile newborn in my arms, with whom I have completely fallen in love, will grow up knowing his mother, or if my sons will inherit whatever freak characteristic or gene that caused my cancer. I'm sorry to sound so maudlin. I don't think it's healthy, and whenever I catch myself doing it, I try to balance it by visualizing the most wonderful outcome: having a clean CT scan, having the doctor tell me I'm in the clear. Oh, what a happy day that would be!
I am not yet ready to type the words of my diagnosis into Google's search bar and discover what information exists about my particular sarcoma. That will be my next step. I've avoided it all fall and winter, preferring to focus on my pregnancy. But at some point, I have to start learning about this scary, ugly part of my life. I just hope it provides empowerment and not more fear. Please, God.
A man I knew in an early job out of college used to ask me about my plans and counsel me from the perspective of one who was older and wiser. (He was probably younger than I am right now, and something of a player at that — I'm sure his attention may have been partly flirtation!) He once handed me a slip of blue memo paper with a quote he had written down for me. It was something along the lines of this idea: There's no better way to slay a dragon than to walk up to it and shove a spear down its throat. I have no idea where it's from, who said it, or even the correct words of the original quotation. I carried that blue slip of paper in my purse for years. I don't know where it is now, but I'm sure I still have it, sitting in a shoebox somewhere in storage. It comes to mind as an image for staying strong as I prepare to face my prognosis.