Once, Twice, Three Times More…Lady!

ONLY THREE MORE treatments to go!  For those of you who’ve been counting with me you might have seen my mistake before I did.  One of the radiation therapists broke the news to me Friday.  Don’t know who drew the short straw to get the “messenger detail”.   My brain has been so overloaded with so many things the last several months I’m thrilled that I was only one day off!

It’s been three and a half months since I learned I had breast cancer.  August 25.  It feels like it should be August 28th or something far closer to Labor Day than Christmas Day.  How could so much time have passed?  I can’t wrap my brain around that. I’m amazed to think of all the work and projects that I’ve completed in that time.  I have physical evidence that proves I lived and moved and created over the last 109 days.  Most of my work, I fear, was done on auto pilot.  Some was completed under the influence of some pretty hefty narcotics.  All was done through the grace of God.

When I first learned I had cancer I saw a friend’s Facebook post pop up on my screen.  When I was much younger and I had a challenge ahead of me, I’d call on him to visit with to help me sort out my thoughts.  He usually agreed to make time for me. I always did the seeking out.   I always did the talking.  Some things will never change.

His post that morning included a picture, so it was like I was thinking of him and “Poof!” there he was.  I popped in for an online Facebook chat.  Testing the waters I started with a tease about politics, then the weather, then business.  Always safe topics.  But I was struggling so hard sitting alone with the recent news that I had to tell someone about the diagnosis.  I believe God popped him into view to give me that opportunity to “talk”, to grieve, to breathe.  I asked if he had a minute.  He said he did.  So I jumped in with both feet not thinking of how the news might sound on the other end.  An online chat with my old friend was safe for me.  It allowed me to cry without being a bother and without making myself too vulnerable.  That morning visit allowed me to storm about verbally and process many fears and ideas.  And it gave me an opportunity to secure a tie-line on the mountain face I was scaling.  For that I’m grateful.

Facebooking.  Texting.  E-mailing.  Those have been my preferred methods of reaching out to friends over the last several months.  Technology has been efficient, available at all hours of the day or night, and didn’t put me at risk of ruining someone’s shirt with mascara or snot.  I’m a considerate crier.

But I know the human touch is required to heal.  And I’ve worked hard at accepting some people into my personal space during this journey.   Saturday I got a letter from the IU Simon Cancer Center explaining that my surgeon, Dr. Robert Goulet, was leaving the center to pursue other “professional opportunities” in Indianapolis.  I felt my stomach knot up as I read the letter.  Where was he going?  What happened to him?  How will I see him?  Who’ll look after me? 

The first time I met him we sparred in a familiar, comfortable yet professional way.  I told him I believed God was placing the right people at the right moments and in the right places in my life to heal me.  I told him I believed God brought me to IU.  “I’m just an instrument.  I’m only the instrument in all this,” he said, shaking his head back and forth and looking a bit sheepish.

“Good to hear,” I replied, looking him squarely in the eye,  “’cause if you thought you were God then we wouldn’t be continuing our conversation!”  His faced burst into a smile that made his eyes sparkle.  Had he been set up?  I have a quick wit.  Fear sometimes brings out my best.  His nurse and the medical student in the room egged me on.  But I stopped.  That day Dr. Bob and I were clear with one another.  He accepted me as his patient and I accepted him as my doctor.

“Dr. Bob” got me.  He reached in through the wall of my fears and my anger and grabbed hold of my hand firmly and stood there with me, letting me know he was going nowhere until I was safe. 

I’m not safe yet, am I? Am I?

No one tells a woman who’s found a doctor like that she’ll need to pick another to help stand watch for signs of the enemy.  I have a surgeon.  I have a radiation oncologist. I have an oncologist.  They’re my trifecta!  The trinity in my world right now.

It was after 9PM last night before I finally got the courage to search online for information about “my doctor”.  Learned he’s going to Community East in Indy.  Closer to our house in Fort Wayne by about 20 minutes.  Not bad.  Covered by my insurance?  Not sure.  I’ll be working on that detail tomorrow.  I’ll bring it up at my THIRD TO LAST RADIATION APPOINTMENT!

Wish me luck!  I’m close enough to see the prize!