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Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)
- TITLE: You Have Cancer
By Carolyn Kenney
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My surgery was scheduled for the Tuesday after Labor Day 1996. “Fearful” is the word that best describes my feelings during the two weeks prior to that day. I needed surgery for one reason - cancer! Many people are diagnosed with cancer. However, when the doctor says that you have cancer, the feeling in the pit of your stomach is indescribable. A feeling of fear and terror permeate your mind and body.
In the summer of 1996, I had stomach pains off and on for three weeks. Like many people, I thought they would eventually go away. However, they persisted and I finally made a doctor’s appointment, which was long overdue. Upon examination, I learned an ultrasound would be needed and returned a few days later for the results. My gynecologist told me he saw a “mass” and advised a complete hysterectomy. The word “cancer” was never mentioned, but his meaning was clear. My surgery was scheduled immediately - the day after Labor Day. On Labor Day weekend, I am usually glued to the television set watching the “Jerry Lewis Telethon.” My heart is deeply moved to see people - young and old - telling of their struggles. Now, my life was on the line. The weekend was a blur as the days dragged by.
On the day of my surgery, I found the doctor, nurses and other staff members were gentle and calming as they performed their duties in the most professional manner. As I was wheeled into the operating room, the cold air and shiny metal instruments did not allay the fear in the pit of my stomach. The anesthesiologist found my vein; minutes later I was in a deep sleep. In a few hours, I began to awaken in my hospital room. The first words I heard were from a family member in the corner of my room. He said, “She’s going to need chemo or radiation one way or the other.” That is the first time I knew the cancer was malignant! I struggled in vain to come fully awake. Vaguely I recognized my aunt sitting by my beside and mumbled, “Was it cancerous?” To ally my fears temporarily she said, “No.” I knew in my heart that she was wrong.
The next morning my doctor came to see me. I could not have asked for a more competent, considerate, gentle human being to perform my surgery. Gently, he told me the cancer was contained and was totally removed. However, he advised me to obtain a second opinion and suggested either Massachusetts General Hospital or Dana Farber Cancer Hospital. Knowing the excellent work of both hospitals, I chose Dana Farber with their years of experience dealing with cancer patients. Once again, I was blessed with a terrific doctor who I saw for five years.
In two weeks, I will celebrate my 11th year being cancer-free! I am no longer fearful to the degree I was on the September weekend in 1996. However, there are moments when I wonder if the cancer will return somehow. I do not know. When the thought enters my mind, I move on with my life. I thank God for these past eleven years and for whatever my future holds. Fear comes in many forms to all of us. However, the love of God is beside us throughout our life’s journey.
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