August 27, 2015
I’ve waited all week for today. Today is it, and I don’t really want to go because I am afraid.
Ken and I walk in together holding hands. We sit silently in the room and wait.
I wonder what it feels like to tell someone they have cancer. How do you do it? I look at Ken and quickly look away. I know he is scared, too.
The doctor walks in wearing a weary face. He shot down my my last hope with the words: Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
I wondered what it would feel like to really KNOW.
Now I’m seeking my thoughts to define my feelings. Fear? Some. Confusion? Definitely. A bit of anger, but not a lot. I don’t even hear the doctor speaking. We have questions, but I’m not hearing the answers. I fight back the tears. I know if I start, it will be a flood.
I agreed to this. I told God to let my Maddy live, and to take me. I gave him my life one year ago today.
We leave the office and head home to wait for the children. They agreed to meet at the house to hear the results. How do I tell them? Ten years ago, I had to tell them their father had died. It nearly destroyed them. How will they get through this?
I’m NOT dead though! I have a chance. I’m going to fight. That’s how I tell them. We fight. We all fight together. They will fight with me.
Later in the evening:
We’ve told them all. It was deathly quiet for a bit. There were lots of questions for which I had no answers. They acted brave, but I know they are terrified. They are strong and they will fight…for me. My friends know now as well. It’s so surreal. Oncologist tomorrow to make decisions.
Aug 28, 2015
Dr. Esler is amazingly friendly and calm. He says I need more tests including a surgical biopsy. I DO have cancer, and if it is a certain kind of Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I won’t need radiation. The surgical biopsy will give him all the information he needs to decide exactly what treatment to give me. He says there is an immunotherapy drug I can take for two years. It is a newer therapy that uses antibodies to attack the cancer attached to white blood cells and force them to die. He says non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is treatable and I’ll live for a long time, but it is not curable. I was so encouraged that I went back to work and joyfully finished my day. Tomorrow…RANGERS game with Tina!!!!
Aug 29-30, 2015
My daughter bought RANGERS game tickets and a hotel room for my birthday (It was July 25). I guess God knew I needed this distraction. What a wonderful trip. Tina is already helping me fight. I have to fight everyday just to stay positive. I will remain joyful and positive. I will!
Aug 31, 2015
PET scan today. Keeping a fake positive attitude for myself. FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT is what I’ve always told my kids. I’m scared the doctors will find this mess everywhere in my body! I’m always tired and exhausted. I fell asleep during the procedure. I just wonder how long until I will know. The lady at the desk said that Dr. Esler would call when he has results. I hate waiting. I went home and cried while holding my cat. How ridiculous is that to cry to a cat?
My daughter told me to apply for Family Medical Leave Act right now. It will keep my job safe. When I called about it, Mrs. Sheppard invited me to come to main office of AISD. I filled out FMLA paperwork. I can miss up to 60 days without fear of losing my job or my insurance. It does not matter if the days are consecutive. It is retroactive back to the time they began examining my lump. Such great news, but I’m really depressed.
Sept 2, 2015
I’m so worried about my job. Teachers in my district must take a full day or half day off for sick leave. The a.m. half starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends at noon. The p.m. half starts at noon and ends at 3:45 p.m. If I had a Dr. appointment at 8:00 a.m. and it was completed at 9:00 a.m., I would get docked a half day even though I could return to work by 9:30 a.m. There are plenty of assistants who can fill in for a teacher at my school. Mrs. Sheppard, at the administration building told me that in cases like mine, most principals and coworkers help catastrophically ill teachers by covering classes, so the sick teacher could bank hours. For example, if I miss two hours one day and two hours another day, I would only use a half day of sick leave. I sent the following email to my principal when the oncologist called for me to come to his office ASAP:
“I have to be at the doctor at 1:30 to get the PET scan results. Is it okay if I leave at 1:10 and return ASAP…hopefully by 2:15? Sheryl [the other music teacher] will have kindergarten by herself, but she says she is ok with it. If you are not okay with that, I’ll have to use a half day and put in for a sub. (You know I won’t get one, and Sheryl will be alone with kindergarten anyway.) Previously I used three half days for appointments. I was docked for hours, but I was only gone two hours each time. I came back to work; whereas, I could have gone home. I am hoping to use those six hours for future appointments.”
My principal did consent to my request, but I did not feel warm and fuzzy about her response. She was reluctant, and demonstrated absolutely no compassion. No well wishes were sent my way.
Doctor Esler showed Ken and me the PET results. It is stage 3 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma because it is above and below the diaphragm, on both sides of my chest, and in my spleen. Actually, he said it is throughout my body and in my bone marrow. Treatment will be the same unless the surgeon pulls out a different kind of cancer in the surgical biopsy.
Sept 7, 2015
I cried today for a couple of minutes. Then Ken and I held each other and both of us cried for a few. We are both scared, but we have each other–for now.