If you’re going to get cancer…

If you’re going to get cancer…

…Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the one to have.

I don’t know where to start. It’s not that this is the beginning, but it is the beginning of something. My doctor received preliminary results for last week’s needle biopsy, which confirmed that I have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My CT scan next week will show the extent of the cancer, and my treatment plan will come next.

There isn’t much point in removing the affected lymph node(s) at this point, so I’m most likely to undergo chemotherapy without surgery. I’ll know more after next Thursday when I talk directly to the oncologist, who I’m told has fantastic shoes.

But all of that is just more conjecture and waiting. Things have moved very quickly since all this began, and I’ve only had so much time to process everything that’s happened. Not enough, really, and I know I need to spend some time somewhere alone and just let myself think about things. I haven’t had a chance to do that yet.

Instead I’ve been keeping myself busy, both with everyday life (because that never stops) and with other things to distract me, like playing guitar or eating or talking to people online. Anything to keep from thinking too much.

Still, I don’t feel worried about any of this. I have cancer. But as my doctor and countless other people have told me (and I’ve said to others) today, if I’m going to get cancer, this is the one to get. I do feel off, though. Wrong. Strange. Disconnected a bit. Because I have cancer.

Tonight I’m tired and I feel the pressure of the last few weeks weighing down on me. It’s harder to breathe, and the air feels heavy around me, and I feel vaguely sad and helpless, like I did when I was in the midst of depression years ago. I recognize this feeling, and I remember it. I fought my way out of it once, and I’m certainly not about to fall back into it now.

Tomorrow I will walk down the street reminding myself to stand up straight, put my shoulders back, open up my chest and breathe. Because that’s what will get me back to myself. And then I’ll be okay again, making ridiculous cancer jokes to people who don’t expect to hear them, looking up ways to donate my hair, thinking about the awesome hat shopping I’m going to do.

My friends and family have been fantastically supportive through this. Even my work, which I’ve only been with for a short couple of months, has been absolutely great about giving me whatever time I need to get treatment and take care of myself. But there’s still nothing much to do, other than wait and see what’s next. I’m going to be fine. Sometimes I feel like they’re reassuring me of that so that they can reassure themselves too. They probably are.

And so I wait another week, and see what happens next. And because I don’t know how to visualize what I’m feeling, here is a picture I took years ago of cedar waxwings in the rain at Cleveland Dam. Somehow it just feels right.


Cedar waxwings