The funny thing about being diagnosed with cancer is that you don’t know the worst part, by far, is the waiting.
It seems silly to say that, considering in leukemia’s case, it’s basically your body actively failing to operate correctly.
But it’s absolutely true.
I was diagnosed with leukemia by my doctor at 5:03, on June 1st, a Friday. I don’t know if I have to spell it out, but that weekend was just slightly under the norm, in terms of enjoyment. Can’t imagine why.
But every minute of that weekend I spent either torturing myself with morbid thoughts, or doing everything in my power to absolutely just not think of anything cancer related.
I had varying degrees of success.
But the thing about cancer is that that really is the whole process. You sit and wait for minutes, hours, days. You sit waiting for test results. You wait for blood work. You wait for transfusions. You wait and wait.
And then you get some news.
And then you wait.
The sad thing is, and the doctors tell you this up front, after they deal with the anemia (which is the major initial symptom of leukemia, and the only one I had to deal with, fortunately) with blood transfusions, you actually feel pretty good.
After my first bag of blood, I honestly felt better than I had in months. I felt like in that moment, I could have completed the sprint distance triathlon I had been training for.
I got 2 bags of blood yesterday, and today, again, I feel pretty good. If I wasn’t attached to my chemo bag, I’d probably be in my town, riding my bike for a few hours.
Instead of doing that, though, I wait.
First, I’m currently waiting for the chemo itself to finish. I currently have 2 more bags to go, out of a total of 7.
Then, I wait for the chemo to actually take affect. This can take anywhere from a couple to a bunch of days after the last bag of chemo. I’m told this is where the unfun starts. I can expect my hair to fall out, fevers, coughs, aches, pains, and general symptoms of being sick.
Then I wait for my numbers to come back up. Red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Those numbers take a week or so, and then I feel healthy.
Then I get my third bone marrow biopsies of the month, and find out if the chemo actually did what it was supposed to do.
Then I go home, and guess what? I wait again.
I wait for more tests results.
I wait to see if the leukemia comes back.
I wait to see if I need a stem cell transplant.
And when all of this is “over”, assuming everything goes well, I then wait tensely for 2 years. The chance of a relapse after 2 years is extremely low.
And then when that’s over, I wait again. This time, for 5 years. If I’m cancer free, with no sign of anemia, I get to technically be called “cured”, although there is basically always a chance of relapse at some point.
So, time to hurry up and wait.