Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Shock and Awe

So traded some emails with Duke yesterday the first one which began from them with No Tumor and a bunch of pathological information that essentially states I don’t have cancer. I wrote back with a bunch of questions…and asked for a call and they responded with who did I want to talk to… I wrote back, in my always humble fashion, simply with someone smarter than me. They said I had so many questions I should think about coming in but I’m not sure I’m ready for a flight and more medical bills. The emails  just put me in shock with a few people asking what was wrong yesterday and me not really answering anyone because I was afraid, nervous, something or other to say it out loud… when the first email came I ran 5 miles… and just put my ipod shuffle on shuffle and over reading into the universe as I usually do focused in on one song that I kept listening to over and over, “Rain” by Creed came on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3k3jxi4JhXA ):

I tried to figure out, I can't understand...
What it means... to be whole again...
Trapped between the truth and the consequence
Nothing's real, nothing's making sense...
Fall down, wash away my yesterdays
Fall down, so let the rain fall down on me...

As the emails kept coming I wanted to call my mom or my brothers but it didn’t quite feel real. So I called Todd who organized the tournament, Susan who got my tattoo. I forwarded the email to Matt from Hawktober, called Kelly from the BrainPower5k. I talked to the headcoach of the marathon training group I’m part of. This wasn’t real right? This was inception where it’s a dream within a dream or maybe I’ve been in a coma for the last few months and this is all just not true. I’ve joked forever that if someone took me out with a two by four and just carved into the side of my head I’d know no better. I called the pastor I meet with and he thought it was great news. Susan said I sounded more shocked than when I called to tell her I had cancer, that I’d kind of assumed I was dying and that having this was something that I didn’t expect to not have.
I requested all my medical records than requested a letter and while the letter is not as cleanly phrased as I would like when that arrived it felt real. That letter arrived today and whilte it’s more awkwardly reading than I would call elegent, at that point it felt real. I called my mother and brothers at that point. Kiana was here but I still haven’t told her because I don’t know how to… I called wonders and worries to ask for some guidance. I drove off to drop something for a friend and then just was driving around… and around… and around… and finally I drove to Livestrong to talk to a counselor but I had no appointment so one only could talk to me for a few minutes. A couple of the people who knew me immediately asked if I was okay, that they’d never seen me look that off… I told them and they were just surprised. The woman who I’d gone to Davis with put their facebook status in reaction to it: (http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151021881999916&set=a.55657659915.61916.6195089915&type=1&theater ). A thousand thoughts ran through my screwed up brain Is this true? Was it a misdiagnosis? At some point, I even told the guy from Hawktober has this all been a fraud should I return this Cancer Survivor trophy? Let’s just say that even as you read this you can probably tell I’m shell shocked. And I’m skeptical. I’ve sent the letter and the pathology report to the local neurologist and the guy who did my biopsy and somehow want a second opinion, a third one, a twentieth one…  Duke’s comfortable with me not returning and just following it locally but somehow if I get that second opinion I’ve asked about doing it somewhere like MD Anderson or John Hopkins… Somehow my inner gut is arguing more that this can’t possibly real more than I did about the diagnosis… (Speaking of Duke, disappointingly they chose not to be a center of excellence which would allow those with this in the future to go and/or reimburse me because they get a lower rate of reimbursement).

Before these emails had started, I was sitting there talking to the Travis County attorney about renegotiating my departure and we discussed an option that would theoretically keep me employed for longer and resign with a positive recommendation and keep health coverage a little longer . Who knows if any of this will come true but I think what they were most shocked about was that as part of the requests was that they make a donation to Livestrong and/or the Brainpower5k of $500. Who knows if I’ll get any or all of what I ask but oddly enough I got something from Duke that I never thought was coming.  If the job offer works out the way I want, I’ll probably take a trip to get a second expert opinion but I also want to take a trip where I just relax. Susan suggested I take someone and do something like climb the Grand Canyon but who would I take? As I talked to her I realize if I ever get my finances in order again, the one trip that I absolutely want to do on a bucket list is go to Brazil because that’s where I was going to go from the surgery and I literally changed that flight to the flight to Duke…

This is all overwhelming and I have to realize I still have to find a job and pay bills and do things that everyone does. Life on the moon couldn’t be any stranger, life on the moon couldn’t seem so far away, the life that I knew is through and I’m going to need you more than I’m ever. I’m alone in a crowded room, it’s like life on the moon.

I should be thrilled right? And I am but mostly I’m skeptical, relieved and confused… I hope this is true but I fear that today’s hope is just veneer for yesterday’s disappointment…  Ironically I’ve never said that I would beat this to anyone, just that I was hoping to get to 40 as the Duke neurosurgeon originally said… call it superstitious but I literally said on Saturday to someone for the first time ever, I’m going to beat this thing and then Monday I get the emails, today I get the letter with a signature that somehow made it feel almost real. I joked at Livestrong that cycling must cure cancer, I joked to someone from the marathon running group that I started coaching that clearly they were the cure to cancer, I played with an 8 ball, people told me I need to thank whatever deity (or their specific one). I wanted to celebrate but don’t know how so I went to a track workout… if you read this, today’s the right day to tell me how to celebrate because I am in shock and awe.


  1. Hug the ones who truly love you unconditionally!

  2. You continue to live like each day is a gift. "Live Like You Were Dying" - Tim McGraw, love it, live it!