It’s cancer. No it’s not. It has to be, otherwise why wouldn’t they publish my biopsy results on the patient portal. Why is no one calling back? It’s been over two weeks now. Where are my results?
Then I think, this will change everything. And at the same time, this will change nothing. At this very moment, I am cancer free. As long as the phone doesn’t ring I am cancer free.
But what would change exactly? I made a vow that I would continue to coach and serve and do this work—no matter what, no matter if the cancer came back, that I would do this work until my very last day on earth.
If I am found to have a cancer recurrence, what would really change, and would it be all that bad? Wouldn’t I remember to be a more patient mom, a more present wife, daughter and friend? Wouldn’t I remember to savor every little thing because time is so very precious? Wouldn’t I eat better, knowing full well all the sugary, acidic and processed foods that create an environment for cancer cells to thrive in. Wouldn’t I make sure to rest more when I need it? Maybe I’d even take the foot off the brake and prioritize writing my book, to get all those stories together into one collection at last.
None of this would be so bad. But it seems totally crazy that here I am, already trying to flip the script, to find the good in this hypothetical as I sit and wait for the stupid phone to ring. The black iPhone screen stares vacuous, and suddenly it feels heavy, like a loaded weapon.
Maybe the doctor won’t call because she doesn’t know how to spill the bad news. She and I just met a month ago. I told her if it comes back positive, that I wasn’t going to have another surgery. Not this surgery. I told her that I was going to just go live out my days in the desert. The fantasy is that I tell no one, but slip away in the night. I can’t put my family and friends through this again. I would find a little clay adobe house with a dirt floor, a bed, a desk, a small kitchenette and a wood stove for when the nights turn cold. I can see the particles of dust in the shaft of light that pours in from above the kitchen sink. I tell no one. This is where I will write my last story and the sun and the clay and the dry heat will mummify me. Years later someone will find me clutching a notebook.
Then the phone rings. It is the doctor—FINALLY. The results are negative. No cancer.
I can finally exhale, and return my fingers to their keyboard dance.
Time to get back to work.