I have been debating sharing this for a long time, but a friend’s Facebook status yesterday reminded me why I wrote this down in the first place. This post may offend some as it does contain my crazy sense of humor, because it deals with a serious situation and that’s just how I tend to deal with life’s challenges. If you don’t want to keep reading, click that little “X” up in the corner.
It was a dark and stormy night…
No, no it wasn’t. It was a Monday or Tuesday, I don’t remember the exact day, but I noticed something out of place. I thought to myself “maybe it’s an ingrown hair,” but took a look to be sure.
Side note: Let me give you a rundown of my own cancer history. By the time I was 30 years old, I had five procedures to remove precancerous cells from my cervix and one to remove cancerous lesions. Those were all discovered through routine medical exams, as I am not talented enough to look at my own cervix. These types of things didn’t scare me anymore. With the family history I have, I knew when I needed to worry.
This one didn’t look like an ingrown hair to me, so I immediately called my doctor. She immediately scheduled me for an appointment to come in to take a look at it.
So Wednesday morning, I went into the office for my appointment (I know it was a Wednesday, because Wednesdays were always my day off at that time). So as I slipped into the stirrups and slid down the table, the doctor took a look. No, it wasn’t “normal.” She told me that they would inject a local anesthetic and biopsy the lesion. I am not one to be terrified of needles, but when a six-inch needle is about to be injected somewhere that six inches of something else would be more ideal, terror takes over. (Spoiler alert: I’m not a 30 year-old virgin.) Fast forward: Biopsy done. Doctor says, “We’re going to send this off to the lab for a rapid response & we will call you with the results by Friday.”
Cool. I’ll get a call from the nurse to tell me everything’s okay and won’t have to worry about anything else. That was exactly how it was going to happen. As I often say, no worries.
Friday, around 10:30 am or so…missed call 727-XXX-XXXX. That’s a Clearwater number. I stepped away from my desk & outside to listen to the message.
“Hi Kira. This is Dr. XXX from XXXXX. I need you to give me a call as soon as possible. If you can’t reach me, you can have the nurse page me.”
This would be THE conversation. That was the day that changed my life.
I took a deep breath and returned the call.
“Thank you for calling back so quickly.”
(You’re welcome? I don’t know if that would’ve been the proper response, but why wouldn’t I call back when I want to hear that everything is ok???)
“We got back the results of your biopsy. The findings are Stage 1A VIN ((you can look it up using Google magic if you really want to know more. I sure as hell did)). We are going to be referring you out to an oncologist to consult for your treatment plan.”
They gave me the name of the best oncologist in the Tampa Bay area and faxed me the notes I’d need to provide to the physician’s office.
For the next three weeks, I was dying of cancer. (Don’t you remember?! I googled it.)
Getting an appointment with the doctor was a process in itself. Because I lived “across the bridge” from Clearwater, they didn’t even want to have me make the appointment, but yet couldn’t recommend me to anyone else. WHAT THE F$*#?! Don’t you understand what I am going through right now?!? In that moment, I had cancer. I didn’t know if there was more anywhere else in my body. Cancer is a bitch and can be hiding out, literally, ANYWHERE. I didn’t know anything. I was alone. I was more alone than I had ever been in my life.
Was I truly alone? No, I had my family & my friends, but it’s hard to relate to that level of panic until you’ve gone through it. I know it all too well from both sides now.
After an emotional breakdown and calling my regular doctor’s office to help me, I got that doctor’s appointment “across the bridge.” (When it comes to the medical world, I am a force to be reckoned with. I worked in healthcare for over 10 years. I know ALL of the ins and outs.)
The appointment was in 11 days. 11 days that I would have to listen to my own thoughts & fears. 11 days that I couldn’t control. (I’m not a control “freak” per se, but I do like to have a little bit of it.) All I could do was pray and that I did.
In the meantime, human resources was contacted. FMLA paperwork was filed. AFLAC was set up. I was ready for life to happen (financially anyway).
Fast forward 11 days. Upon examination and looking at the results, I was cleared. The cancer had not spread anywhere else. The removal was successful. I had done the right thing. But for a total of about three weeks, I lived with cancer. I can’t even imagine it being worse than what it was. I applaud and admire anyone who has ever battled this horrible experience in its entirety and honor anyone who has been defeated in it. Cancer is not a joke. It knows no age. It knows no other way.
A year later, my whole life has changed. I took that experience and learned from it. I’ll expand more on that in future posts, but the importance in this one is to realize that life is short. As cliché as that sounds, one tiny detail can have an extremely large impact on your life. Get your routine medical care, pay attention to your body and its’ changes, and when something doesn’t feel “right,” stay on the safe side and get it checked.
Thanks for reading. Sorry, not sorry, for my inappropriateness.
Love & light,
“If this is the moment I stand here on my own
If this is my rite of passage that somehow leads me home
I might be afraid
But it’s my turn to be brave
If this is the last chance before we say goodbye
At least it’s the first day of the rest of my life
I can’t be afraid
Cause it’s my turn to be brave”
Brave – Idina Menzel