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  • Jess Haag

Getting Confirmation

The Sunday before my colonoscopy--another night I couldn't sleep well.  It wasn't because of the procedure itself but I just knew what I was going to be told.  Over the weekend I had a few fairly optimistic family members saying there was a possibility it wasn't what the Dr. thinks it to be.  I remember telling them, "I'm not trying to worry you more or anything, but just prepare yourself for the worst."  I'd rather be prepared for the worst and be "relieved" that I'm wrong than the opposite.  Some might label that as not necessarily being a pessimist through and through (close, maybe), but not as optimism.  I consider myself to be a realist...with a bunch of 'dreamer' inside of me. :) 

It was such a surreal morning. I remember making our bed right before we left early that morning, thinking to myself, "I just want to make my bed one more time before I find out that I officially have cancer."  It's crazy some of the thoughts that come over you. 

I had a good friend and my husband there with me that day--and I want to thank that friend for being there for these appointments as my brain got fuzzy after a while and I checked out at some of them, and it lightened the mood.  So as these two people in my life waited, I went in.  Waiting for these types of procedures is seriously...uuuuuuggggggghhhhhhh.  Nerve racking.  I remember my nurse that day--we sat and talked about our kids--hers are college aged and mine are toddlers.  I asked her what her kids were up to, and she told me all about them.  And then she said it... the words, "Oh just wait until your kids are older and you see how different their interests are, etc."  I lost it.  I broke down in tears, telling her all about that experience with that oncologist and what she told me.  This nurse just grabbed my hand and said, "I haven't worked over in that department for a long time so I don't even know the oncologists over there anymore.  But that is just not right.  She doesn't know. You have those babies to fight for."  Yes.  Yes I do.  Onward we went.

The surgeon saw that I was tearing up as I was waiting while they got everything ready around me. He touched my knee and said, "I know you had a very scary CT scan, but that's what we're here for--to see what's going on.  It'll be okay."  And I was.  I was okay.  I just shook my head, agreeing with him, laid down and that was that.  I was out.  And it was wonderful--wonderful like, "where can I get me some of this stuff." 

After waiting just a bit with my 'entourage,' the surgeon came in, saying what I expected to hear as far as the result.  He said, "Well, it's not good news.  It is cancer."  Expected that.  "And I hope I'm wrong, I hope I'm wrong.  But I do believe it spread to the liver as well."  Expected that.  No tears.  We went on to discuss further, and he explained more and more what he thought the plan of action should be, "I don't think surgery is the thing to do here.  You're a young, petite woman."  And I'm going to stop right there.  Did he just call me petite?  I looked at him with a smile on my face, "Petite?!  I've never been called petite in my life!"  That deserves a high five.  So he got one.  And then he got one from Steve.  And my friend.  No one wants to be left out on high fives, right? Okay...back to what he suggested.  "You're a young, petite woman.  We're going to throw the kitchen sink at you with chemo because you can handle it.  I wouldn't suggest it for an 80 year old woman, but you're young.  You can handle it.  The chemo will shrink it to the point where I can then go in and cut that shiz out."  Okay...he didn't say "shiz" but my hubby said he said the 'other' word.  I just didn't want to swear on this thing.  The surgeon then proceeded to say, "I'm a surgeon.  I love cutting people open.  Love it.  It's what I do.  But if you get another opinion, and I recommend you do, and they say we need to do surgery here--I will challenge them.  Because it's not the right thing to do right now.  It's not. Chemo is what you need. And I hope to see you on my table in 3-6 months."  Yeah...we loved him.

I only had one question for him after all was said and done and that was, "Can I see a different oncologist?  I just... I just don't mean to be mean because I know you work with her and all but I just can't work with her.  I can't."  He told me it was completely not a problem at all--some people love her and some people don't.  She can be...crass.  And abrupt.  And that's when I told him how I came to be thankful for her within a matter of two days.  His response? "Yup.  Her abruptness is what got you in to see me today." I remember her being adamant about him being the one I needed to see and that I needed to get in as soon as possible. 

I started dishing off all this info to my friend who works closely with oncologists as a radiation therapist in Chicago.  This is where I was kind of getting an 'unofficial' second opinion.  Her info has been so amazing--her encouraging words and expertise have helped more than she'll ever realize.  Her doctors' willingness to listen and give feedback--awesome.  What I found interesting in this early on advice, was what one of her trusted oncologists told her.  He told her it was very important to find a surgeon that deals with the liver. It makes a difference.  And guess what?  The surgeon that did my colonoscopy?  He's the only 'liver specialist' in this area--the next closest would be Milwaukee and Madison.  So....that's why the first oncologist insisted I see him.  It all makes sense--and for that, I am grateful.

We felt good leaving the hospital that day.  We felt hope.  I remember walking out of those hospital doors, looking up, closing my eyes and just saying, "Thank you, God. Thank you."

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