The day after I learned I had cancer I woke up remembering the strange conversation I’d had with my husband about my surgery. Still unreal, I had cancer. I didn’t know if it was a particularly bad cancer to have. They’d removed my appendix, was it gone? Maybe it was already over and I wasn’t even a cancer patient anymore.
I was asked to choose an oncologist, which I did. The oncologist’s partner, who was on call, came in to order tests. He ordered a CT scan of the chest, abdomen and pelvis to see if the cancer had spread anywhere else, along with blood tests for tumor markers. He told me that if the cancer had gone to my liver, they wouldn’t be able to offer me any treatment. I would be considered terminally ill in that case. He was definitely an up-front guy. Tell the patient the truth. As a nurse I’d always been an advocate of telling the patient the truth. Now I was the patient.
I talked to my mom on the phone, she knew about the cancer diagnosis. I asked her not to tell anyone else. I wasn’t ready to tell anyone except my best friend. I needed to think about it, to let it sink in, to get used to the idea. Then my eldest sister called me. I told her about the ruptured appendix and that I’d had an appendectomy. She talked about how lucky I was, how blessed I was to have survived a ruptured appendix. She seemed confused that I didn’t sound more grateful. Then I blurt it out. The reason my appendix had ruptured was that it was cancerous. I had appendix cancer. Silence on the other end of the phone. Oh…
Now I told everyone. The secret was out, the phone started ringing, everyone was on the internet.