Thursday, September 26, 2013

A billion trillion cells and counting.

Forgive me if I'm beating a dead horse, but this has been on my mind a lot lately.

Why is "cancer" such a medical swear word?  Just saying it sends chills down my spine and a flush to my face.

It's my opinion that when the doctor calls with such bad news, they should phrase it more like "while other folks' cells are sleeping in on the weekend, yours are still up partying," or "your cells are the Duggars of the molecular world."  But "cancer"?  "Cancer" is the worst possible word to hear coming through the static from your doctor.

I'd just gotten to work when I saw that my doctor's office was calling. I figured they were just calling to set up my next appointment, so I picked up the phone and heard "Hi Rachel, we got your results back and they were abnormal."

From that point I tried to listen carefully, but as soon as "cancer" was mentioned, I felt like I was falling through a black hole.

Through my sniffles I tried hard to pay attention, but my mind was wandering and I couldn't concentrate:

                            pre-cancerous                                                                uncommon for your age
                                                need to act fast
                                 too many cells

As soon as I'd set up an appointment for the first procedure and tests, I hung up.  I stared straight out the window trying to get my bearings and trying to stop shaking.  I called Blake and choked out the words, "I'm leaving work. Cancer. Come home now."  Then I left work.  Right after I'd gotten there.  That was a fun one to explain.

I spent the ride home in shock.


Blake and I took a walk around the neighborhood to try to clear our minds.  We called our parents to tell them what was happening.


I couldn't think straight.


I spent the evening writing a list of questions to ask my doctor the next morning when I'd had a chance to calm down.  I convinced myself that it really couldn't be that bad. Maybe I was just over-reacting?

After a night of benadryl-induced sleep, I called my doctor and laid out my questions.  But rather than being calmed, I left the conversation more worried than I'd been before:

                very serious                                            important
                                        rapid growth                                                   abnormal cells
                                                                    extremely uncommon

I suppose they try to prepare you for the worst, but it truly was an awful time waiting for the procedure and then waiting for the results all while having the beating drum of "cancer" invading every inch of my mental space.  (And explain to me why they don't numb you when they're cutting 7 different pieces out of you to study?!).

I'm done with the curse-word cancer.  It's far too scary.

At my 6-month check up I'm going to tell my doctor right off: keep it light, ok?  Just tell me that my cells are advanced for someone my age.  Or that my cells are still on spring break while everyone else's are back in school.  Tell me anything but cancer.


  1. This post gave me goosebumps (okay, and I laughed out loud at the Duggar reference). I once had a tiny breast lump that I had to get removed and I was SO freaked out even though from day one they were nearly positive it was I can't even imagine having to hear the "c" word thrown around like that. I'm SO glad you don't have the you-know-what, over-productive cell condition thingy that I will not name because I agree that it should be banished from your vocabulary!

    1. I'm fairly certain doctors just like having the power to make or break your day....