I am in the middle of revising a budget spreadsheet at work when my cell phone rings. I look at the caller ID and it is Linda’s cell phone. I quickly answer.
She doesn’t say anything right away so I think she hadn’t heard me. “Hello. Hello. Can you hear me” I say.
“I hear you” comes the reply and I can hear that something is wrong.
“Hold on a second” I say as I get up and head outside for a bit more privacy. Working in a room full of cubicles doesn’t afford any privacy.
“What’s up?” I ask.
“The doctor said I have to have more tests to make sure, but he thinks its breast cancer and wants to do a biopsy.” This comes out in a rush followed by the sounds of her sobbing.
“Oh dear,” I murmur as terrible thoughts flash through my brain. I haven’t had any direct dealing with this exact thing before but we have had family and friends who had.
“Where are you?” I ask.
“I just got home” she replies.
“I’m on my way.”
I know Joe, my boss, won’t have a problem with my leaving. I hurry back to my desk, save the work I had been doing, shoot Joe a quick email that I have to leave for the day and am out of the door before the computer shut down screen disappears.
I know Linda needs me and I hurry to get to her. The 25 minute drive to the house isn’t good. All of these horrible thoughts keep flashing through my head. What if we are too late and there isn’t anything the doctors can do? What if we try everything and it isn’t enough? What if she suffers through all of the treatments we can find and cancer still wins in the end? I stop myself right there. I need to not look at the negative, but focus on the positive. I instinctively know that I have to be the strong one for her as she had been for me. I have to be the one who stays positive and focused on getting through this and everything being alright. We technically don’t have a diagnosis of cancer yet and that is a slim hope that I have to hang onto with all my might.
When I get home I find Linda in our bedroom lying on the bed. It is almost as if she is already defeated. The buoyancy and life are out of her. I can tell she’s been crying. She already looks half dead. I go to her and pull her into my arms. She starts sobbing anew. We sit there with me holding her for 15 minutes before the tears subside. Neither of us says a word for a while longer. Finally, she speaks first. A single word. “Why?”
I pause for a moment. This is the same question that has been swirling through my head. There is nothing I can offer but the truth. “I don’t know dear. I don’t think there really is a true Why to this. We have to focus on beating this and not on what caused it.”
She murmurs her agreement, and starts sobbing again.
It breaks my heart to see her like this. I want to make it better, to go back to how happy we were just this morning before this happened.
“We don’t know if it really is cancer, the doctor only thinks it might be. It could be benign.” I try to calm her.
“You know they wouldn’t send me to the oncologist unless they had a really strong suspicion, especially with my family history – my mom and my Aunt.” She fires back.
“When is your appointment with the oncologist?”
“Tomorrow at 10:00 I think.”
“I’m taking you. I’ll call Joe later and let him know I won’t be in tomorrow.”
“OK. Thank you.”
“You don’t have to thank me silly! Where else would I be but with you? I LOVE YOU! You know that and know that I will do whatever I have to in order to take care of you.”
“I Love you too.” is her reply.
We just sit there in each other’s arms for an hour, not wanting to break the spell In my mind I am hoping that if we don’t move then this isn’t happening. Unfortunately it is.