Thursday, February 14, 2013

Racing Death

Racing death nicely summarizes the pace and mood of my fall and winter. Sitting in the Cancer Center exam room with Melanoma Man late October 2012, Dr. W mapped out the natural progression of disease with no medical intervention, which would give us between six and twelve months. It's kind of silly that I say "us" because it's not my disease, it's his, but it feels like "us" to me.

"So it's a death sentence, then?" said Melanoma Man to Dr. W.

"No, no, not at all.  There are options. Let's see what the results of your BRAF mutation test shows. I've got two guys who have been on Vemurafenib for 3 years now."

Two guys, wow, I think. Dr. W isn't young, he's a year younger than Melanoma Man, 62 and he's practicing in one of the country's leading Melanoma programs. An he only has these two guys? WOW.

On the way to the car Melanoma Man says to me: "Well who would have thought your mother would outlive me? Timing could be just right though, you know. I figure you will be finishing up graduate school right around the time I'm ready to check out."

So I started out in January thinking I could manage just one little Pathophysiology class, my full time job, my two children and husband pretending not to have cancer. One little Pathophysiology class turned out to be 15 "mini-papers," one gigantic paper, a ton of reading, 5 weekly discussion board postings, a midterm and a final. I may as well have come home from the hospital with a newborn baby, rather than a Pathophysiology text book. Everyone ratcheted up their demands accordingly. And I was MAD all the time. Wishing everyone would just SHUT UP so I could WIN this race.

I did the right thing. I know I did, dropping out in the 3rd week. It feels all wrong to Melanoma Man. "I just want everything to be the same. I don't want you to change things for me," he says.

I'm not nearly as clever with the blinders as Melanoma Man is. I see truth shining through. The truth is that I can listen to I and W when they want to talk to me. I can play Monopoly for hours because they love it, even though I hate it. There is no race anymore. I can bake the cookies for W's class for Valentine's Day. I can wipe the tears of hurt feelings. I can be more like the Mom I want to be.

I'm holding my breath. Trying to remember to let the air in and out. Trying not to lie awake at night listening for changes in Melanoma Man's breathing. He turns on the Sharper Image noise maker to Spring Nights, so I won't listen to him breath.

Next week, more scans, more doctor's appointments, more time away from home. Then results. I think  I wish that Christmas was coming up again soon to distract and busy my mind.

No comments:

Post a Comment