The visit to the surgeon showed him to be both surprised and angry at the diagnosis. The aspirated fluid had come back negative as he expected. The small lump I had felt was indeed benign (non-malignant). The Lord used it to get my attention.
Even once this gifted surgeon knew the tumour was there, he still could not feel it with his extra-sensitive and well-trained fingers.
“D’you think you’ll be able to get it all out?” I asked nervously, thinking of the radiologist’s words: I don’t think they’ll be able to get it all out.
Dr. Lawson looked at me in surprise. “Oh I’ll get it out—I just don’t know how much of you I will have to take with it.” I knew he’d be furious if he knew the radiologist had told me I can cancer, never mind his negative attitude, yet for some inexplicable reason, I didn’t tell him. Even though the man had been so unpleasant I didn’t want to get him into trouble.
My surgery was booked for the following Monday.
The next few days flew past in a turmoil of people as I told those closest to me. I put on a mask that showed me to be relaxed and unconcerned. God was in control—He was, wasn’t He? I’d be fine. This was a minor inconvenience in my life. That was the image I presented to the world. That was the story I told myself. I wouldn’t allow myself to think otherwise.
The staff at the laboratory where I worked came alongside me in shocked disbelief. They assured me that they’d “be there” for me. Wherever there was.
“I’ll probably be off for a couple of weeks,” I told them cheerfully. “But if I am up to it I’ll be back sooner." Little did I know.
Other family members and close friends reacted in distress at the news. Yet all the time I heard the message, “We're praying. You’ll be fine. We’ll beat this.”
On Saturday afternoon, Rob and I were sitting in the family room with our two sons, when Stephen suddenly asked, “Have you told Debbie yet?”
Debbie was my only daughter.
“No, Steve I haven’t told Debbie yet. She has enough to deal with. I’ll send her an e-mail after I am home and I can tell her I’m fine.”
“Mum . . ."
I locked eyes with my new, I’m-in-control elder son.
“Debs is your only daughter. She has to be told. I’m giving you ‘till tomorrow to write to her. If you haven’t written by then, I will. But it would be better coming from you."
Excuse me? He gave me until tomorrow . . .? Since when did he issue me with orders? I was the parent. Yet, uncharacteristically, I found myself submitting to his decision. Rob, like me, hadn’t been sure. But Stephen had made the decision for us.
“I’ll write tonight,” I said. “If you’re sure.”
“I’m sure. Debs needs to know.”
How could I further complicate my daughter’s life by telling her that I had cancer? How would she cope with the news? How could I word the email so that it didn’t add to her already over-stressed state of mind? It would be so much better to tell her after the event.
Still, somehow, my son had decided. One way or the other, she was going to here. I braced myself to tackle that email.