March 18, 2005
On January 19 2005, I was admitted to the hospital. My Dr.^s visit just 4 hours prior - showed a concern unlike any other I have had. Ten days filled with ultra-sounds, cat scans, around the clock blood work, cultures & a rather painful biopsy - January 29th, my life changed dramatically when I finally rec^d the news, "You have stage 2 cervical cancer". I thought to myself, "Are you kidding? I am only 27! What does this mean? Am I^m going to die?" I sat there almost emotionless - not knowing how to react to such news. The Dr. told me, "It^s okay for you to cry if you feel you want or need to" only - I was almost so angry I just wanted to scream at her, "WHY!" Shortly after - I met my new best friend. My Oncologist... The pre-registering process for a radical hysterectomy must have been one of the most upsetting moments in my life. I arrived at my Oncologist^s office defensive - assuming if I had an insensitive approach - I would not be so sensitive initialing and signing form after form describing complications up to and including the possibility of death. Almost as if I was signing my life away and should death occur - no one would be liable except for me. It felt as if I was choosing my fate - flipping a coin - taking 50/50 - pass or fail. All that penetrated my mind was my 5-year-old son and how I just signed my name to his fate. My mental state afterward was a mess. The waiting period before surgery was not helping much either. In this instance - it seems better to get it over with. Waiting a little over two weeks felt like months. I anticipated "the worst" day in and day out. Sleeping was a luxury I could not afford. I spent time writing letters & emails to friends I love. Letters to my son telling him how much I loved him should it be he had to grow up without me. I thought this would be a good way to make sure he always would remember how precious he was to me & how up until my recovery (not knowing then) - he was the one that saved my life for the short 5 years we were able to know each other. The day before my surgery - forget it. That wonderful 4-liter, artificially flavored concoction better known as "a necessary prep laxative" was disgusting. Every sip was minutes closer to the next day. I went to bed on February 15, 2005 hungry, empty & emotional. I cried myself to sleep watching old videos of my son when he was a baby. Eleven-thirty in the morning on February 16, 2005, I arrived at the hospital. I was timid, scared and fell short of resisting the embarrassment involved. Somewhere I convinced myself I could say, "I don^t want that or don^t do that to me" and magically the nurses would listen and just comply. That was not the case. Lying on the preparation bed, I felt like a lifeless doll that when tilted forward - would cry. Dose after dose of anti-anxiety medication, suddenly it was 1:30pm and all I remember was the anesthesiologist sitting me up Indian style in the operating room to administer an epidural. I can recall the setting of the O.R. and waking up with that being my last memory - the enormous over-head lights and trays of instruments did not exactly give me peace. It was a reoccurring flash with little information but a lot of substance. The worst was yet to come. My mother and partner both told me that in recovery, I talked to them about wanting a cheeseburger and how my Uncle was crying when he kissed me "with hope" instead of "good-bye". I do not remember that. I do not remember much 48 hours after that either. This frightens me still because there was a time in my life I was apparently coherent only, can^t recall these minutes of breath I was given. My second chance at life and I do not remember the beginning of it. In a sense, I relate this to birth. We do not remember when we were born. Perhaps my rebirthing was something I was not supposed to remember. Perhaps it was too physically painful - much like a naturally born baby may feel. Either way - it is frightening but I am learning to be grateful because when I did come to - I had my fair share of pain and trauma most definitely. Ten days I was hospitalized. We were told four to five days but I could not possibly have had a smooth recovery. For those who know me well, I tend to make things quite complicated so perhaps the complications I encountered were God^s way of a lesson. My first stable memory was asking my mother for my little compact mirror. She bought it in the gift shop for $8.00. It was no bigger than a two and ½-inch circle. Talk about profit! I wanted to see my face. Look at my defining incision. Find the differences. My face had no color. My incision stapled closed my now barren belly. The differences were startling. To my left hung two bags of blood that appeared to be desperate to pump pinkness into my cheeks and nails. Days there after counted for involuntary and excruciatingly painful walking. The traumatic experience of bold coherency while receiving a nasogastric tube (nose-to-stomach) for constant vomiting. The fear of blood clots, restlessness, night sweats, more cat scans, around the clock blood work and my poor veins - so bruised and weak from the bags upon bags of IV solution that treated my severe dehydration. Through this - there was one moment I had that could possibly rank up there with one of the worst and most frightening. My oxygen levels dropped dramatically for a period. Long enough for me to feel not being able to breathe at that moment was a cruel way for me to die. As if, I was going to, why not in surgery instead. Passively the nurse said, "She^s even a light shade of blue." In retrospect, I feel she should have been a little more aggressive. However, I survived - once again. Moreover - the days were what passed. Today is Friday, March 18, 2005 and I am a cancer survivor. Those who love me are cancer survivors. My son is a cancer survivor. My recovery has been slow, frustrating and quite a trial but I do not feel complaining about it is the proper thing to do considering one month and three days ago - I was not even sure if I would have the next day. In fact, it almost bestows an odd embarrassment that prior to my surgery - I was so cynical. In a sense - cynicism was the irony I needed. For without it - I would not be able to take my survival - my second chance and view it with more optimism than I have ever had before.