I'm sure you've seen a scene in a movie--there have been several--where a character in a nice, comfortable house goes to the front door; and upon opening it discovers nothing but open, unknown space.
That is where I am standing right now. Clutching the door frame and staring into the darkness.
There have been notable moments leading up to this day: Day One. But this feels like the first. The beginning of something I don't even want to imagine.
One of those momentous days was four months ago, when my husband and I decided to put our home up for sale. We have lived here eleven years. My youngest son doesn't know any home but this one. And it's a beautiful house. We were highly reluctant, but for many reasons it felt like the best thing for the family.
I know the exact date of the next event. June 28. Two and a half months ago. I had a routine mammogram. A couple weeks later I got a routine call notifying me that it was normal. I had no idea that would become momentous.
It was the beginning of August that I noticed the lump while dressing in front of the mirror. About the size of a walnut. It startled me, how obvious it was. I even showed my husband, something I've never done before. But I tend to be lumpy. And I'd just had that mammogram, so I put it out of my mind.
Wednesday, September 2. We were scheduled to close on the sale of our home. But I was in mourning. My feet weren't just cold, they were frozen. We had found a beautiful home to move into. But that had fallen through. I couldn't stand the thought of selling this home without knowing where we were going. And all I could think about were the reasons not to leave our home. But my husband and I went to the Lord for advice, and individually felt strongly that it was the right thing to do. So we signed. And proceeded with an obsessive search for a new home.
Just two days later, Friday, September 4, I realized the lump had changed from a walnut to a plum. I had an appointment already scheduled with my doctor for the following Thursday, the 10th, to followup on some unrelated health issues. I told myself to stay calm until then. Besides, I had to find a house before the end of the month.
And that's when the whirlwind began to pick up. The right house remained elusive. And the doctor assured me it was probably just a cyst that needed to be drained. He scheduled me for an ultrasound the next Tuesday, yesterday. September 15. But by then I was calling it an apple.
I was late to the appointment, even though I'd planned to be early, since I'd never been to the facility. The freeway was backed up and not moving. I exited and took State Street. I uttered the word 'cyst, cyst' over and over as my car crept slowly along. I told the lady at the front desk that it was a very stressful way to arrive at a stressful appointment. My husband was waiting for me, but was in the wrong part of the building. They called me back before he found me, so I asked them to send him back when he showed up. They told me he'd have to sit in the waiting area, where a couple of men were already waiting. Reminded me of labor and delivery rooms from a couple decades ago, when they thought men were wimps.
I changed into the ugly blue gown, and was seated in a room with four other ladies who were discussing the joys of mammograms. I had barely put my touche in the chair when I was called back, breezing past those other ladies like I was something special. The technician was very kind. Very gentle. And after her perusal of my delicates (with me silently chanting 'cyst, cyst') she stood and said she'd get the doctor who would chat with me.
A couple years back, I had a cyst on my thyroid. A big, ugly thing growing out of my neck. The technician pulled out a syringe when he was done looking and drained it. There was no doctor. No chat.
I felt a bit of foreboding and asked for my husband. She said she'd check with the doctor. She seemed uncomfortable. Like she shouldn't say too much. And I really began to worry.
Then the doctor arrived and announced he would be doing a biopsy.
"So it's not a cyst?"
"No. It's a tumor."
That was the word. The one I'd been dreading. The tears started, and he made a swift exit to find my husband. All I could think about was my bed. And how I wanted to curl up in it. Except it isn't in my room.
I don't have a room.
My treatment has been put into high gear. I should be getting the biopsy results today. I meet with the surgeon tomorrow.
I remember fumbling with the little locker key in the dressing area afterwards. I couldn't see what I was doing through the tears. A woman asked if I needed help. I knew she and all the women in their blue gowns knew the news I'd just gotten. And they were thinking how it could be them. I wanted to tell them not to rely on the mammogram alone. But I couldn't talk.
I cried all the way home. Expressed my anger to the radio. About how unfair this was. I eat right. Exercise. Watch my weight. Besides, I already paid my dues with open-heart surgery at age thirty. I should have gotten a free pass after that. Fortunately I was able to stop the flood in time to tell the children. My littlest broke down at the word cancer. The only people he knows with cancer have died. I told him that wasn't going to happen to me.
So today, Day Two, I'm just counting on the Lord having a plan. And I'm thinking it would be nice if he let me in on it real soon.