Updated: Nov 9, 2020
As I lay in my hospital bed after the surgery, there was a lot of talk from the medical teams about my "chances of survival". I thought about this - what does being a "survivor" even mean? Haven't we all endured trials & tribulations - isn't this just an aspect of our pilgrimage here on earth? I kept reminding myself of what Jesus said in John 10:10 - "the thief only comes to kill, steal and to destroy. I have come that you might have life and life more abundantly". As I looked toward my future, this is what I envisioned - an abundant life with God's goodness permeating every aspect of my life. He had already brought me through so many things leading up to the surgery.
For the first few days after the procedure, things were pretty much a blur. The days seemed to jumble together and I lost track of time. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking about the "D Day" that was coming - my neurosurgeon and the pathologist that had attended my procedure both "thought" that the diagnosis would come back as a benign "meningioma" - they also agreed that the tumor was extremely aggressive and that without medical intervention I would have died within 2 to 6 months - pretty serious stuff! I took comfort in their prediction as the days counted down to learning the actual result.
One fateful Monday morning [6 days after surgery] a very kind PA [Physician's Assistant] was removing a drain from my head - due to bleeding she had to step out of the room to find a stabler to control the bleeding. At the same time, Greg was downstairs on a business call so I was all alone. During this sliver of time, an Oncologist [who I had never met before] came in my room and informed me that the biopsy came back as malignant and that is seemed to be "Diffused Large B Cell Lymphoma" with CNS [Central Nervous System] involvement - the timing of communicating this diagnosis could not have been worse. The doctor had an extremely calloused bedside manner and continued to spew medical statistics as though I was either her medical colleague or a lab specimen - matters were made worse due to the drug induced haze I was experiencing. All I heard was "LYMPHOMA" and all I could think of was "getting Greg back in the room with me" to deal with this news. I serial called him and he was able to get to the room in about 4 minutes while the Oncologist was still there. He asked her to repeat what she had been saying - he asked her to "slow down" and interrupted her a few time to get more detail. Finally, he informed her "my wife is not a lab rat and to have a little compassion". She then realized that her assumption had been wrong - she thought that another doctor had already informed me of the diagnosis and that her role was to simply provide additional information - not the best time for such a misunderstanding.
Everything went blank and I was overcome with fear - not so much a fear of dying but a fear of leaving my grandchildren, children, husband and friends. I shuddered at the thought of my nine year old grandson Dean having to deal with the fact that his Nannie had passed away and how he would handle it. After the Oncologist left it was just Greg and me in the room. He took my and and told me "to not be afraid - that I would live and not die and would declare the works of the Lord". I chose at that moment to rest in God's love for me and fight this cancer with everything that was within me. What awaited me was a battery of tests to determine if the cancer was primary or secondary CNS lymphoma and a series of MRI's to determine if cancer was resident elsewhere in my body.
Once again, we had to deal with communicating this news to our children, family and circle of friends.