You hear this word all the time on television, in advertisements, read it in print, but it takes on an entirely new meaning when it’s being said about you. You only hear that word and everything else being said just kind of drifts out of your head as it sinks in what you’ve just been told, in fact everything else may as well not even exist in that moment.
When they continue explaining saying things like, “lucky it was found now”, “just a small surgery”, “this has a [insert statistic here] rate of being cut out early on”, it’s all lost in the wash as your ears ring and you process the words that were just said, “You have Cervical Cancer.” That’s all you really hear then, that word “Cancer”, that phrase “You have…”, everything else is nonexistent for you in that moment. I had told plenty of people in my life I thought I understood; but I never really understood how that felt. Despite having been there when my own patients had been given this information and helpfully handing out pamphlets and talking to them, but it’s different when it’s you. Everything becomes different when it is happening to you.
They say when you receive this kind of news you go through the stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then acceptance…I’m going to go out on a limb and state that I think I skipped a few of those and pretty much decided to stay in anger/depression for a while. Even before I knew before when I was told I had abnormal tissue growth that would need a biopsy I had already gone to anger, it is a safe place to me to be angry to focus on that it means that no one and nothing can hurt me as long as I keep them at a distance and don’t let them. Like most people I didn’t want to tell anyone what was going o with me according to my oncologist that is “Completely normal and fine.” I find it a bit disturbing this is so fine, that the fear of being seen as sick and weak is so ill accepted that it is considered normal for someone to keep something like this a secret for weeks, months, apparently some of his patients have done it for years. I think I just wanted to know beyond a doubt what was going on and where we would go from there before telling anyone anything, have a plan before alerting the masses.
I have my plan and have alerted the masses, and now the word has finally stopped ringing in my ears. It took a while well over two weeks since my official diagnosis to even tell a single person, I didn’t even want to think about it, be given information on it, or even have anything in my possession that said the word “Cancer” on it, as though it was something I could ignore as long as I didn’t talk about it, it couldn’t hurt me. We often treat things that way if we don’t think about them they can’t hurt us, right? But it’s wrong by not thinking about it, or talking about it, or holding onto it, things can tear you apart inside and can be affecting you in so many ways you may never even notice…fear of something, anger from something, pain from something shouldn’t be held onto and kept to yourself that way. Especially not when tied to something as simple as one little word. I’ve now cried, focused, worked out a plan with my doctors, and am going to be fine, or else…seriously. I’ve got a lot to live for.
So I will not cry now, and I will not let that word get to me, make me afraid anymore, or pull me down like I have. Because at the end of the day I’m the amazing one here, and I am going to get through this with flying colors. Now to leave everyone with a song.