This year our daughter takes the bus home from school everyday. She usually arrives home at about 3:10, except for the day last week when she had a substitute driver who missed her stop. We watched her drive right by- bewildered face pressed against the window. When the driver finally brought her home (an hour late) she burst into tears. “oh, Bee were you scared,” I asked. ”I knew you would be worried, mom,” she said, “that’s why I was crying.” And I had been.
Yesterday she arrived home on time only to have to turn around and go out the door. It was the first day of dance and I had completely forgotten. She walked in and I excitedly announced, “today is the first day of dance.” I then sheepishly admitted that I hadn’t been able to find her dance shoes and also couldn’t find her leotard. Feeling like a crappy mom, I knew she would be upset and she didn’t disappoint. My girl and I, we know each other well. She had an impressive tantrum. I was surprisingly patient, (I was prepared) and tried to talk with her about why she was so upset. “Well, I just walked in the door and you give me bad news,” she screeched indignantly. I empathize my girl- our visit to Dana Farber on Monday invoked a similar reaction.
“We just got done dominating this tumor and you’re not letting us celebrate our victory,” we wanted to screech at our doctors. It was a strange visit. DF was crazy busy and the waiting room looked like a crowded bus station: people sitting on the floor and standing in groups. To their credit we didn’t wait long and were interrupted mid-fight by both the surgical and medical oncologists who were all smiles and hand shakes. Yup, my man and I were fighting at the cancer clinic. We had a tense drive to Boston and a terse lunch before arriving for our 2 p.m appointment. We had just enough time waiting for the doctors to really get into it before we were interrupted.
Like the classic good cop bad cop routine, Dr. Raut oohed and awed at my man’s recovery from surgery, gave us copies of his surgery notes and pathology reports, and bid us goodbye. ” I will leave you to discuss your next steps with Dr. Butrynski,” he smiled and with another round of handshakes took his leave.
Dr. Butrynski then put an abrupt end to our euphoria by reminding us that we may or may not be out of the woods: it is a crap shoot. Naively we believed we were done and that my husband’s success with radiation and surgery somehow earned us a better prognosis. We were like two children arguing against a punishment, “yeah but, yeah but, yeah but,” we tried in vain. “Sorry, no,” was the firm reply. There is still a %50 chance it will come back-if it comes back there is no cure and as if reminding us of these grim statistics wasn’t enough-he threw in chemotherapy as an added bonus. We have a choice- proceed with a course of observation and monitoring (CT scans every 3 months for 2 years) or 6 rounds of heavy duty chemotherapy followed by observation and monitoring – it is up to us. We are left with the near impossible decision of whether my husband should poison his body for 4 1/2 months even though there is no guarantee it will help. Thanks for nothing! As my man so deftly put it, “having cancer sucks!”
So my girl, I understand your rage and disappointment at being given bad news that you didn’t want to hear and I wouldn’t mind throwing a tantrum myself, ( I probably will at some point.) But for now:
there is still %50 chance that we are done and my man is cured
my man and I are no longer fighting
we had our first fire of the season in the fireplace tonight
my man introduced our 4 1/2 year old son to chess tonight and he loved it, (yes, he is brilliant)
and lastly as annoying, frustrating, horrifying, unfair etc, etc, etc, all of this is we are almost getting used to it- which may or may not be a good thing!