Two weeks ago today I was diagnosed with cancer. I will always remember that I was in the Oral Surgery department of the University of Pennsylvania’s Dental School, sitting in a dentist’s chair, when one of the residents looked at my biopsy and gave me the news.
It’s always the who and the what, the where and the how. It seems that we remember the little details when we get bad news of any kind. I’ll always remember that resident and how I didn’t like his chairside manner or the other dental students hanging out in the room, around my chair, checking out my reaction. Learning you have cancer should be in private, even in a teaching hospital environment.
In other words, fuck cancer. And screw the rest of you, too, standing around, goggling at my reaction. If you can’t help me, get out of my way. Now. I have people to tell and I have to drive home.
One of the worse things about finding out you have cancer is talking about it or even admitting to yourself that yes, you are a cancer patient, whether you like it or not. You have cancer, and it’s down there or up here or over in there and you have to deal with it. And it’s really, really hard to say to someone you love “Hey, the biopsy came back, and it’s not good. And I’m going to need your love and support and all of the hugs you can give me.”
I called my boyfriend from the car and then I drove back home with the biopsy results in my knitting bag. I snuggled with my cat, made an appointment with my primary care doctor and just sat on the couch, stunned.
And then I got to work making sure I’d get the care I needed, because no one else was going to do it for me.
So, here I am, two weeks later, and I feel good. If it weren’t for this thing in my mouth, I’d be even better.
And all politics aside, I bought a great health insurance policy this morning through the marketplace. My cancer care costs will not bankrupt me, thanks to the ACA.
Every health professional that I’ve spoken to over the past two weeks looked like they wanted to pass out when I told them my diagnosis and that I didn’t have health insurance.
But now I do, and that’s taken care of. Now the next step is to get my treatment started so that I can be well again.
I will get through this, you know…might take some time, but I’ll be fine.