Tomorrow is check-up day. There’s nothing like a check-up at a “Sarcoma Institute” to help you relive that terrible day when you were told you had cancer. That comes with all kinds of scary thoughts. But truthfully, I kind of like to be reminded. That year was as poignant in its revelations as it was in terror, and the revelations are something I never want to forget. I’m not terribly fond of the deep scar on my right shoulder either, but I don’t notice it without reliving the good moments as well as the bad.
There’s a wall of survivors at Dr. R’s office with pictures of his patients – all smiley and grateful for him. I’ve never remembered to send him one of me, but I’m thinking something like this one – since Jake was such a part of our miracle. The first time we took Jake to one of my checkups, other patients noticed him so sadly because they were afraid he was the one with the disease. We were happy to tell them otherwise.
Other patients there make me sad too. I always say to Michael, “This is one waiting room in which you really don’t want to see even one other person.” Instead, it’s usually crowded. I especially hate it if the patient seems new. We regulars have a certain confidence and happiness because we’ve been through the gauntlet and come out all brightened and re-prioritized about our lives. The new ones are so sad though, because they don’t know how it will go for them. This disease is very unpredictable, so I don’t know how it will go for them either. And I hate it.
But I didn’t start this post to be sad. Like I said, it doesn’t make me sad to be reminded of my cancer. It makes me something else – it’s kind of proud, kind of grateful – but with a painful little edge that hopes I never have to be this proud or grateful again. Mostly, I’m looking forward to tomorrow. We don’t have the kind of budget that would create bi-yearly trips to Kansas City just for the heck of it. And I love that drive so much. I love the uninterrupted time with Michael and the long stretch of Missouri highway that’s really only good for two things – conversation and happy thoughts. So I’m going to revel in it. On the way down we’ll talk about our jobs and our plans and our kids. I’ll be nervous for the last thirty minutes or so before I see Dr. R. and breathe a sigh of relief (he doesn’t have to say anything – I swear his presence just emits some sort of emotional Valium), and then we’ll eat somewhere cool and on the way home we’ll call the moms and the grandmas and then talk about how great life’s going to be from here on out. The whole thing is really much more treat than torture. It’s a wonderful feeling to be followed that closely for signs of recurrence, and an even better feeling when they Don’t. Find. ANY.
(P.S. Thank you, Grandma Jane, for giving the kids something much more fun to do than a drive and a waiting room. It’s really hard to keep Jake out of the rippling fountain next to the sign-in desk.)