Most people are familiar with the stages of grief original concept by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Yeah…I’ve been through three of the five stages.
Denial began when I noticed the nipple (I hate that word) turn in. “Could be anything,” I said to myself. “I’ll just keep an eye on it.” But after a couple of weeks, it wasn’t getting better and if anything, it was deeper.
So I went to Disneyland. With my friends. And no, I didn’t take my children. My children really don’t love Disneyland. They won’t go on most of the rides and forget about rollercoasters. There were people who gave us a hard time about leaving our kids at home but I ignored the haters. I had a secret.
I told my husband that I was making an appointment to go to the doctor when I returned because something was wrong and all signs pointed to cancer. And he kind of scoffed at that. He did this partially because of his own fears. His arm was hurting awhile back and apparently he had convinced himself he had bone cancer, but when he went to the doctor, he found out he’s just getting old. SO he assured me that my experience would be the same. But I didn’t think so.
I had a lovely time at Disneyland. My time in the land of denial. I drank wine, I went on lots of rides (including Little Mermaid eeeeeee!!!) and I spent quality time with my friends who I adore. We rode Tower of Terror three times. We went to fancy dinner and I accidentally drank a $25 glass of Cabernet that was worth every sip of deliciousness. It was an excellent retreat.
And then I came home and made the appointment.
You know the rest. My doctor didn’t like the look of things and sent me to the main clinic for a mammogram and ultrasound. That was on a Friday. I couldn’t get in until Monday.
Crappiest Easter weekend ever.
But on Friday, I was all zen. There was nothing I could do. I wasn’t going to worry until I needed to worry. I told my husband as much.
Then Saturday came. I woke up still feeling zen. My husband went off to play tennis. I was ok with that. I took my younger son to an appointment and I was keeping it together. Cool as a cucumber.
And then after lunch I started googling. And I freaked myself out. Husband had to dart out to check out this famous tennis club. He was on recon or something ridiculous (at least to me at the time). I was slightly annoyed when he left.
The kids were watching t.v. and I was googling. And unfortunately, I came across life expectancy rates. Holy crap! I had no business reading that. And I kept reading. I couldn’t look away. Mothers of fairly young children who suspect they might have cancer have no business reading about survival rates. And I got really nuts. Red Alert! I’ve gone over the edge!
So I stepped away from the computer, took a deep breath and decided I needed to go to the grocery store and get eggs. Dammit, it was Easter and we needed to color some eggs. But my husband still wasn’t home. Where the Hell was he?! How dare he LEAVE me when I might have cancer. When I might be dealing with things like “Life Expectancy Rates”? I imagined him sipping a cosmo while I was here at home needing freaking eggs.
I told the boys to put on their shoes because we were going to buy some eggs. They could tell from my voice that something was up and they hopped to it. And we were off.
There were lots of eggs at the store. I picked up two cartons. But I couldn’t find any egg dye. you know that PAAS stuff? Couldn’t find it. But I knew I could use food coloring we already had at home. But I couldn’t find the vinegar. WHERE WAS THE VINEGAR?!! And I started to cry. My eldest put his arm around me. “It’s ok Mom. We’ll find the vinegar.”
And this nice man showed us where it was (while probably wondering why the heck this seemingly rational woman was crying over vinegar).
We got a couple of other things and stood in line. I had tears running down my face. I could barely keep it together. But the check out lady just ignored it and was nice as can be. We grabbed our stuff and left.
And when we got back, my husband was home… and here is where I truly (and unfairly) entered the ANGER phase..
The boys went straight back to their bedroom and closed the door and started playing a game.
I am not proud of what happened next. Needless to say it involved me yelling and screaming and throwing things. I was a whirling dervish of panic, fear and rage. And my poor husband bore the brunt of it. It ended with me screaming about marriage vows and tennis and then running into the garage where I sat in a pile of dirty clothes and cried my eyes out.
My husband tip-toed in a few minutes later and bewildered said, “I thought we were going to be zen about this.”
“WELL YOU THOUGHT WRONG THEN, DIDN’T YOU?!!” was my pithy retort.
And then I cried some more. I told him I was freaking out and that I needed him and that I didn’t appreciate him ditching me for tennis.
And then he promptly cancelled his tennis match for the next day (who plays tennis on Easter Sunday anyway? I’ll tell you who, fanatics!).
Then I went into the kitchen and got out a pot and said, “I’m going to boil the eggs now. We need eggs for tomorrow.”
And my husband said, “That’s great but where are they?”
Where are the eggs?
Huh? We bought them! We bought them. But then we didn’t bring them home.
So my husband took the boys back to the store to get the eggs where the nice check-out woman was holding them for them. It takes a village sometimes.
And my husband spent the rest of the weekend with me. Just sitting next to me. Sometimes he held my hand but he always stayed close.
I apologized for my temper tantrum and he said it wasn’t necessary and gave me a hug.
He’s a really good one.
Since my diagnosis, the anger I felt that day has not resurfaced. I’m sad and scared and that’s about it. I haven’t really gotten to bargaining because I’m kind of a realist when it comes to stuff like this. I am hoping for clear lymph nodes, and a low oncoscore but I don’t think the universe is willing to trade anything at this point. I don’t think that if I eat all my brussels sprouts or go to church every Sunday that it is somehow going to change the cancer I have. I think this is it. I don’t have anything to bargain. All I have left is hope.
Coloring the Easter eggs didn’t make any difference. Bargaining is just a distraction.
Mostly what I am feeling now is depression. I’m trying not to let it drag me down but there it is. I am just really sad. But that’s better than being hysterically pissed off at the wrong person, you know?
I hope I can eventually get myself to the point of acceptance but I’m not close to there yet. And I don’t think I need to be. For now, I’m just going to live in the process and hope for the best.
With that said…THIS REALLY SUCKS.