When I was in my early twenties the apartment building I was living in caught on fire in the middle of the night. I was able to get out unscathed, but had some scary moments during my escape. Waking up suddenly from a sound sleep only to see flames licking at your windows and thick columns of black smoke coming up thru the heating registers in the floor is a frightening experience, to say the least. I remember that everything seemed to move in slow motion and all the while I kept thinking, “This can’t be happening” – tho clearly it was. Even afterwards as I stood outside in the street and watched the firefighters try to control the 4-alarm blaze I kept having this feeling of reality being suspended; as if what I was witnessing wasn’t real.
Last year after I found the lumps in my breast it took several weeks to get a diagnosis. During most of that time I vacillated between thinking it would be nothing and fearing the worst. But even when I thought the news might be bad there was a significant part of my brain that reacted just like it did watching those flames burn my home…feeling like it couldn’t be real. It just couldn’t be.
But it was.
Now I’m waiting to find out if the pulmonary nodules in my lungs have grown…if the breast cancer has indeed spread. Perhaps as testament to either the power of hope or denial, I swing like a pendulum, back and forth, as to which way the outcome will go. On one level it’s hard to imagine more bad news coming my way…I mean really, enough is enough already, right? And yet on another level it’s hard to ignore the reality. Once your innocence is shattered it’s not as easy to maintain blind faith. I now know all too well that worst-case scenarios do happen. Buildings burn down. People get sick and sometimes cancer wins.
So I’m left wondering, am I merely standing here in a haze of disbelief watching the flames prepare to devour what’s left of my life, or do I get to escape the blaze again and regain some smidgen of a fundamental sense that there is goodness left for me in this world.
Oh, and let us not forget the third option…that while the nodules might not be a fast growing metastasis, they do end up still being there, same as before…their presence meaning I have yet more waiting to do before finally knowing with some degree of certainty if they are malignant or not…sort of like living in my own little corner of Purgatory rather than immediately being thrown into the definitive inferno much further south.
Meanwhile, this is me, still waiting…till next time.