Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Day My Life Changed

Alright folks, we aren't quite done with the "one year later" posts- sorry. I have thought a lot about whether to write this or not, but occassionally someone newly diagnosed finds my blog and emails me complaining that the story ends before the beginning, so I thought I'd try this.

One year ago today I heard terrible words while sitting by myself in a doctors office. Actually, I didn't so much "hear" them as "read" them, because I demanded to see the pathology report myself and there were a lot of crazy sounding things, but at the end was the term sarcoma and nothing good ends with sarcoma. I knew nothing about the specific form of sarcoma they were diagnosing me with (some crazy version of chondrosarcoma), but I remembered all to well taking care of kids with sarcomas in residency and it was always bad. To say that I was scared might actually be the understatement of the century. I was numb, shocked, horrified. I heard about the possibility of amputation for the first time that day, and it just wouldn't process. I didn't know what to feel I didn't know what to say or how to act and I kept thinking this can't happen to me I have to work tonight. Fortunately, my orthopedist declared- Lisa you can't work tonight, I forbid it. Otherwise, I might have tried.

I had arranged to take my parents to lunch that day to thank them for helping me through my post surgical recovery (who knew how much more of that they would do). Anyway, as I was spending more and more time in the ortho's office I called my dad and asked them to wait for me that I had to talk to them. I called my best friend on the way to the restaurant, then I crutched my way to their table, my dad stood up, he hugged me, I started to cry, I couldn't speak, I couldn't move, my world was changed, I knew it even then. I finally got it out and then my mom started to cry. I don't think that she stopped for a week. A year later, I might hope that that will be the worst moment of my life. At the time it felt like a nightmare. I spent the rest of the day in a fog, talking to people who were slowly hearing the news, trying to deal, but I was a wreck. By the next day, I had focus again. I needed knowledge. I needed to understand what was wrong. I needed help. So, I went to work, I did literature searches. I called my friend at MSKCC and started the road towards going there. I pushed emotion aside and I just did what had to be done.

I have often thought of that transformation that I underwent in the night after I learned I had cancer, I changed from scared and powerless to purposeful and in charge after a few hours of pretending to sleep. In that day, I learned how strong I am, and I learned a lot about what makes me tick. I know that I couldn't have done it any different. I am me, and this story is how I dealt. I would never question how others might deal with similar issues and likewise I don't want to be questioned. I did what I had to do. I did it with the help of my family and friends. I remain so grateful to those who helped and saved my sanity along the way, but alas this was my road to travel and I did it as best as I could.


Anonymous said...

Lisa -

You did, and are doing, an awesome job. This one of the qualities we have spoken of many times. We are strong women, and when faced with adversity, we may cringe, cry, freak out, but in the end, we find the strength do face the challenge, pull on the boot straps, and get it done.

In the end, I am sure you have learned a great deal. Iknow you have felt a great deal. And while I know you always knew you were a strong person, am sure you never realized how truly strong you are until now.

We love you and look forward to a HAPPY birthday celebration in a couple weeks!


Lisa said...

Ahhh shucks, thanks Suz

Elsa Dias said...

Hi Lisa,
I know how you feel. :(
I have battling a retroperitoneal liposarcoma for 7 years and some times I also wish I could hide my head in the sand. The positive part is that the really bad days are followed by better days.
Take care