Cancer. The big C.
It’s a funny word, really.
I’m sure we all know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. Maybe it’s a loved one, maybe it’s someone you used to live by growing up… Does this word make a difference to you? Previous to my diagnosis, the word cancer didn’t have a big affect on me. Sure, it made me sad to think people had to battle something terrible, completely out of their control, but I didn’t really stop and think about how different the world is when cancer involves itself. My life completely changed when I was told the words: you have cancer.
It was one year ago. I remember exactly where I was sitting. I remember exactly what I was thinking before my cell phone rang.
I was sitting on the couch in my living room. My younger sister was my ‘babysitter’ for the day; two days previous I had a laparoscopic procedure done, and I was excited I could finally get out of bed and move around a bit. My younger sister was sitting next to me; we had just finished up watching Pitch Perfect. My phone rang and I said hello to my surgeon. I was expecting her to call and explain what exactly the tumor was, but had no inkling in my mind to what she was about to tell me, but I heard it.
“Kaylee, the tumor we removed was found to be malignant, you know what that means, right?”
Wait. What? Malignant? I knew Benign is what I wanted to hear. What was Malignant? I had been ecstatic the days before knowing the growth wasn’t on my ovary as doctors had suspected, that I was going to be able to have children. I loved knowing an explanation for all my ‘tummy aches’, and that I wasn’t, in fact, ‘gluten intolerant.’
My doctors voice again. It brought me back to the conversation at hand.
“Yes, I think I know what that means.”
My voice didn’t sound like mine. It was as if the ugliness of the word malignant had already started to take over.
“So, what I’m telling you is that you need to meet with an oncologist. Someone who specializes in this type of cancer.”
There was the word I had been dreading. Cancer. I had cancer.
“What you have is known as GIST. It means Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor. Mostly likely, you will be put on a type of chemotherapy called, Gleevec, which is a treatment for this type of cancer.”
That ugly word again. Cancer. Is this real?
After our goodbyes, I remember looking at my sister. She is ten years younger than me, and I knew I didn’t want to scare her. I couldn’t hold it together. My eyes welled and I sobbed. I sobbed an uncontrollable, horrid, sob. My sister, Justine, put her arm around me and told me things were going to be okay. I couldn’t respond and tell her that I had no idea if things were going to be okay.
My husband came home from work, and my parents and in-laws came over, as well as my other sister. We ordered pizza, cried off and on together and gave a lot of hugs.
Nobody knew what the future was going to hold, but at that moment, we all just appreciated the overwhelming amount of love in the room.