This past week I finally began telling people about my diagnosis. I started with DH's mother, a breast cancer survivor herself. I knew that I was going to need her to take care of the boys on the day of my surgery. She listened, was encouraging, and told me she would support us in any way we needed. It wasn't as bad as I thought it might be.
Next came DH's sister. She lives closer to us, about 45 minutes, and I knew I would need her this Tuesday when I go in for my MRI. DH is going to be out of town and the test is scheduled in the afternoon, right when the boys are done with school. That was a little harder. She was also supportive and encouraging, but at a certain point her voice began to crack and I thought she might lose control. Her husband had just been through a skin cancer scare a few months earlier after his biopsy came back positive for melanoma. They removed it all and seemed confident that it should solve the problem, but it has left a shadow in the background of their minds about what might have been or still could possibly happen in the future.
I actually haven't told my family yet. I made the call to my mother, meaning to tell her, but she was very sick with walking pneumonia and was listing a whole litany of problems that she was dealing with....so I decided to wait for a week or so until she was feeling better and more present.
After I tell her, my dad will be next. That one will be interesting. My dad is a cranky atheist. Curmudgeon is a word that might capture his essence. He can be good with the boys, but overall most of his conversation revolves around how stupid people are, how everybody drives like an idiot, and how the health care crisis would be solved if we simply stopped treating everyone who couldn't pay, and let them all die like they did in the good old days. And that is only the tip of the iceberg.
However, this cranky, atheistic, politically incorrect man can also be affected deeply by death and impending physical suffering. Many years ago my cousin's wife committed suicide. It was very tragic. She left behind an eight-month-old daughter and my grieving cousin. My dad was torn up about it. It was the first time I have seen him cry. Last year my sister-in-law was diagnosed with Huntington's, inherited from her mother who is now a bed-ridden invalid. My dad was depressed for weeks. My aunt was in the hospital a few months ago. She had gotten a blood infection that became quite serious. My dad was furious that he hadn't been told about it until after she was better, because she might have died, and he would have visited her if he had known. This man, so full of contempt and vitriol for the world at large, hides a heart that is sometimes difficult to see. I am hoping that he doesn't over-react to the news.
All that being said...I am doing OK. DH is doing OK. The kids know, and they are doing OK. DH and I have each had a bout of panic or worry overcome us at unpredictable moments, but overall we acclimated ourselves to the concept and are not as consumed with it as those first few days.
There is an obstacle before us. We will take steps to overcome it. We will maintain normal life and be present in the moments before us.
Thanks to all of you who have been mindful of me and my family.