Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part
-Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Last week, as we started our vacation to Kentucky, I received a voice mail message every woman dreads, "please call us about your mammogram results as soon as possible." I got the message late at night on the road and had to wait until the next morning to call my doctor's office. It was a long ride to Irvine, Kentucky where my aunt lives. My husband and I sat quietly with our thoughts as he drove through the rainy night; each imagining our worst case scenario. I thought about all the things I would miss my children doing if I died from breast cancer. I wondered if I had the energy to fight this disease. I tried to think of how I felt recently and, then, attributed every ache and pain to metastasized cancer. I tried to convince myself it could be something else. I emailed two friends desperately hoping they'd say their doctor's routinely called with results. Despite being exhausted, I had trouble falling asleep that night. I anxiously woke at 6 am, knowing I couldn't call the doctor's office until 7. When I called, I found out they weren't open until 8. After several attempts, I finally talked to a nurse who told me the mammogram detected a small nodule on the left breast and they just wanted to be sure it was nothing. The imagining center would be calling to schedule a second mammogram with an ultrasound. Glen and I breathed a partial sigh of relief and resumed our vacation.

Now, on the eve of the repeat mammogram, I am plagued again with sleeplessness. I will know for certain tomorrow what the results are. I wish there was a fast forward button. Once I know the outcome, I will deal with it. I do well in a crisis. But right now, what I imagine is worse than anything. I have high hopes that it will turn out to be a cyst or fibroid. I plummet into despair that it will be cancer and I won't live to see my children grow up. I worry about how Glen will handle it--will he be strong for the kids or so devastated he can't function? I picture my children living with friends or relatives because he is so overcome with grief he can't care for them. I picture myself lying on a bed, thin, dying, unable to fight, my children crying at my bedside. I know these are unlikely scenarios. But that is what the waiting does. It feeds on our darkest fears because we don't know what to do. We want to rally against something, but we aren't sure who or what the enemy is. Perhaps it is a defense mechanism--picture the worst possible outcome so whatever the reality is it can't be as bad. I don't know. I do know it is almost 1 am, I'm still awake, and Tom Petty knew what he was talking about.

1 comment:

  1. Jenn,until the test results are in,no one is going to alleviate your anxiety. What I can do is promise you that whatever the outcome turns out to be,you will never be alone.

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