Those of us who live with any life threatening disease go back and forth between a sailboat and a roller coaster all through our lives. After my original diagnosis of stage IV cancer and given two months to live, I rode that roller coaster for months. Then to my utter delight and disbelief, I was put on an experimental treatment and my cancer was under control. I sailed along on my boat on calm waters for fourteen years! They have been powerful, breathtaking years and I'm grateful for all of them.
I had forgotten how precarious I felt on that rollercoaster. Last month, just before we were going to take off for Sun Valley, I went to my doctor complaining of stomach issues and he said, "Go on your vacation and we'll take a look when you come back." A shadow of me buying a ticket for that roller coaster loomed in my head. "No," I thought. "Go away."
When I came back from vacation, I took a cat scan. Whenever I take one, my doctor always calls me that afternoon and starts the conversation with, "The cat scan looks good, no new growth" and then he goes on from there. This time he said, "Do you have a minute?" My heart stopped! There was a "large mass" on my adrenal glands. Even though he didn't think it was large, the report stated otherwise. I was on the ride full blast now, with no turning back. "What does this mean?" I asked my doctor. A biopsy, probably, to see if it was an extension of the cancer I already had. We would then possibly change my medicine and a decision of whether to take out the mass or not needed to be made.
I was scheduled for a biopsy within two days time. At night, I was writing letters in my head to my husband, children, grandchildren and friends. I went to the biopsy and was on the gurney and ready to be sedated when the radiologist and my oncologist decided it would be prudent to take a pet scan to make sure this wasn't a cyst (filled with water) instead of a tumor (filled with cancer). And so I went home to write more letters in my head. I thought to myself, if this is the beginning of something bad, I cannot complain! I've had fourteen bonus years. I've been very lucky.
I took the pet scan and during that 30 minutes with your hands above your head every thought in the world goes through your mind. They say your life flashes through your head as the plane goes down, and so it does as the clanging of the pet scan takes you through to the end of the line and finally silence. We would now know the answers. We waited for the doctor's call once again. Bob answered the phone. "It's good news, the doctor says." Bob said. "Wait, I'll let you tell her." "It's a cyst filled with water, Beverlye. It's not a tumor!"
I was snatched back from illness and brought back to health once again. Final diagnosis. We don't have to change medicines or remove the cyst. I gladly jumped off the roller coaster and stepped onto my lovely, safe, boat to sail once again in smooth waters.
I guess the point is that we all live on that proverbial dime that can change in a minute, so when you're on the sailboat don't let small things bother you.
Life is precious! Come sail away with me and enjoy the ride!