I spent ten wonderful days with my sister as her caregiver. When the time came to pack up to head home, I had many mixed emotions. I didn’t want to leave her to find out her pathology results on her own. I didn’t want to leave until the drain tubes came out. I wanted to make sure she was cared for, comforted, and loved. I knew her husband would be able to step up and take over, but it was still hard to leave. In the end, I missed my family and to be able to see them on time, I needed to leave to beat the incoming snowstorm.
Saying “good-bye” was one of the hardest things I have had to do. As I hugged my sister, tears began flowing for both of us. Of course, my niece laughed at us for being ridiculous, and I’m sure we looked it too. One thing I told my sister was not to be afraid. Expect the unexpected. Expect the surprises that might come her way. After all, if it was like my cancer, there could definitely be a surprise lurking in her pathology report.
A few days later, her oncologist gave her the pathology news.
“Erica,” he said.
“Just tell me what it is,” she replied.
“You have cancer.”
“Nice one doc!”
“Erica, I’m serious. You have cancer,” he responded in a solemn tone.
“Oh,” she said with a few colorful expletives.
That about summed it up. How best do you take the news than saying what she said?
The moment I talked to my sister on the phone to find out the details my heart dropped. We expected a surprise, a small surprise. Nothing like she told me though. Are you ready for it? It’s been almost a year since our world turned upside down again and I still sink into my chair every time I recall that day. Her diagnosis came back as Stage 2. She had two Stage 2 tumors just millimeters on either side of her original biopsy location. Her sentinel node was also inundated with cancer cells. This was not good news. This was news that shook me to my core. I wanted to jump in my car and drive over two snowy passes to be with her. But, what she needed most was time. Time to digest the news herself. Time to plan for her next steps (more surgery and more oncology appointments.)
Between my cancer and my sisters, we have come to expect surprises in any situation. Sometimes the surprises can be great, other times, the surprises will make you grab for your heart and take a step backwards. These surprises that we received made us think about how precious life truly is. If I didn’t have my mastectomies then I would have not known for (quite possibly) years that I had invasive cancer. If my sister didn’t have hers, she wouldn’t have just saved her own life.
New posts every Monday and Wednesday.