It was so nice being home again, but I couldn’t stop thinking about my appt. with Dr. G (one week post-surgery) when he’d inform me about the results of the pathology report. A week later he started the appt. asking about how I was doing, feeling my neck area, inspecting my scar, looking into my mouth, etc. Then I rudely interrupted him and asked him what about my pathology results?!?!? I couldn’t wait another second. Even though I believe I already “knew” what he was going to say, I also needed to hear the words. Then they came….”Yes, it was malignant….We need to start radiation”. I took the information like a champ; asking questions so that I could be as prepared as possible for radiation.
However, after Dr. G left the room the facts began to sink in…It’s malignant…malignant….What’s that really mean- malignant? Intellectually I knew what malignant meant, but emotionally I felt stuck. Why don’t they just tell you that you have cancer- why try to lessen the blow by saying malignant? Does it sound less harsh? Malignant = Cancer. I have Cancer. I have CANCER! I have CANCER?!?!? Once the realization had really set in I began reeling with questions. How is that possible? I am a 33 year old, relatively healthy woman with no family history of paraganglioma tumors. I was told by Dr. G before the surgery that he was 99.9% certain is was benign given the size of the tumor (4-5cm) and the fact that I had NO symptoms. Yet, here I am now….and I have CANCER.
As I left the office, I began texting family and a few close friends the news (that still felt like was just part of a bad dream), “It was malignant- I will start radiation soon.” As I was paying, one of my best friends, who had received my text, called. While waiting on the woman to copy my bill, I listened to her voicemail message; she was sobbing, telling me how sorry she was. Hearing my dearest friend breaking down crying like that immediately set my tears in motion. It was then that I really seemed to grasp…..I have cancer.