"All the world's a stage." -- William Shakespeare, As You Like It
In January of this year, I had a new job, a new home and a new marriage. I was full of anticipation for this next stage. I've never bought into the princess fantasy -- I always saw myself more as Indiana Jones -- but in the storyline of my life, it seemed that I had come to the happily-ever-after part.
Then cancer upstaged me.
Initially I was told that my cancer was Stage IV. This is the worst stage. There is no Stage V. If there were, it would be, "Exit stage left."
Normally, lung cancer spreads through the lungs, then most often into the liver, bones and brain. Because of the distance between the primary site of my lung tumor and the affected lymph nodes on my neck, the doctors assumed it had to have spread throughout my body. But my case was unusual. My cancer spread to the lymph nodes in my neck and those under my clavicle, but only there.
When the doctor first said we needed a biopsy, blood work and x-rays for "staging," there were honestly a few seconds when I thought, "Oh, a stage! Will I be on it? I've heard of a theater of operations. Maybe I'll have an operation in a theater on a stage!"
I may have watched All That Jazz too many times.
The reality is somewhat less glamorous.
The oncologists agree that I am on the border between Stage IV and Stage IIIB, but because of the limited nature of the spread, all are calling it IIIB.
So cue the lights on Stage IIIB as I hit the boards for the role of my life.
This column was originally posted on parade.com. You can read more from Jennifer here.
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