Let me set the mood with a little story:
The second recovery room was a tiny square, maybe ten feet by eight feet. As you enter and look to your immediate left a computer cart sits idle waiting for my vitals to be entered. In the far left corner two generic hospital waiting room chairs share a common arm, side by side. Moving along the back wall to the right, a monitor hangs overhead, right above my head. It beeps occasionally and every so often fills the blood pressure cuff full of air to make sure my heart is still beating. It is; no worries there. My bed has been wheeled to the back right corner, and I’m trusting enough of the sound structure of the hospital walls that the monitor won’t fall on my head.
It’s been around three hours since I finished my ‘wedge resection’ operation, or in my words, cutting that damn cancer out and officially making me cancer free again. I had a great few hours in the first recovery room, mostly because of the care given me by my own personal nurse, Linda. It really makes a difference when you have a great nurse helping you with your every need. But alas, I have left her behind and moved to the final phase of recovery in this tiny little room where I sit. I haven’t seen my wife or family yet, and I’m anxious to give Lib a giant hug & kiss and to show her my newest battle scars. I’ve developed quite an assortment of scars all shapes and sizes in my battle and rebattle with this disease known as osteosarcoma.
There is no door, the opening to my room is divided from the others with a wavy sterile curtain that leaves a gap of about 18 inches from the floor. This is just enough room for me to peek out and spy on the crocs, tennis shoes and dress shoes that scurry by as I sit patiently waiting. I now see a pair I’m familiar with, a pair that belongs to my beautiful bride, Libby. As the curtain draws enter stage right the blonde haired angel I’ve known by my bedside all too often. She has a smile on her face-why wouldn’t she, everything went off without a hitch. They removed my new cancer and didn’t have to open me up and go through my ribs! I was stoked, to say the least, that they had gotten the young regrowth before it could develop into adolescent osteosarcoma. Of course in medical terms there is no such thing as adolescent osteosarcoma, I’m just using it to portray my happiness that they got the tumor in its early stages.
Lib walked over to the bed and threw her arms around her husband. Carefully though, I did just have lung surgery. We had a quick kiss, she pulled back slightly, looked straight away in my eyes and said, “You know it’s not cancer, right?”
My head cocked to the left a tiny bit, my eyes squinted and I looked at her with my inquisitive face. Some say that face makes me look angry because my eyebrows come together in an angry “v”, but I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t anything but purely shocked. I couldn’t believe her. I finally muttered a pathetic “What, huh, what do you mean?,” and even a truly idiotic, “Are you joking?” Of course she wasn’t joking, who would joke about this? Not my wife of all people, not the one person who has to put up with this horrid cancer day in and day out with me.
Only a matter of seconds had passed by since hearing the news I couldn’t comprehend. You see, when I was originally diagnosed I could comprehend the news-it was just quite unpleasant. This was truly the first time I was shocked by hearing a few common words from the English language. I was shocked because we’ve never gotten good news after a surgery; we’ve never gotten good news from the lab; we’ve never gotten good news from the oncologist; not from the ct scans, not from the xrays, not the bone scans. I simply do not hear good things come from the mouths of my doctors. “You will never walk again without crutches. Chemotherapy only killed a small percentage of your tumor. We’ve found a spot on your right lung that needs to be taken care of.” These are the things I hear.
After those few short seconds of my squinting, unbelieving eyes looking into the endless blue of the eyes of my wife I hope we one day pass to our children, I put my head back on the upright bed. With my chin pointing towards the all-too-bright fluorescent light and the stubble on my neck exposed for the whole world to see, I started crying. For the second time in my life, for the second time in a hospital bed with Lib by my side, the hygienic dull walls of Fairview around us, beeps and intercoms floating through our ears, I had tears of joy. These tears followed only the tears of my proposal to Lib, so distant in time but not so distant in circumstances.
It wasn’t a tumor, I’m not ‘rebattling’ cancer. I beat it the first time. These words warrant happy tears.
Now what to do about these holes they just poked in my side and the chunk of lung I’m missing…
Set the mood, check. Next, deliver the news with a drumroll: I got a call today at 11:38AM about my lab results. “Great news Steve, the results show fibrotic tissue with no sign of malignancy. It wasn’t osteosarcoma. We’ll get you back on your regular schedule and see you again in six months.”
If you read the story above, it’s now been validated and all the emotions I felt that day (and continue to feel) aren’t full of false hope. It is official. I still don’t have cancer. No cancer. None. Fighting the good fight worked, and is still working.
I’m a figther and a survivor