February 3rd, 2012 at 4:08 pm.
Dr. Robert Wu of Internal Medicine at the Toronto General Hospital, held my hands with compassion and with much emotion uttered the fateful words. “I am confirming that you have Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the blood”. My first question back was, ”How long do I have to live.? His response, “That’s variable”". For someone who has lived a healthy and vibrant life, never been to hospital (except to give birth!), rarely even picks up a Tylenol, the cancer diagnosis is a tough one to accept. But the situation was about to get worse. The following week, I got a call from my Hematologist, Dr. Jean Wang, who indicated that further bone marrow tests revealed a potential second cancer, Lymphoma, which was an unexpected and unusual finding. She referred me to an Oncologist, Dr. Rodger Tiedemann at Princess Margaret Hospital who has experience with both, Lymphoma and Multiple Myeloma. Then began a series of tests, including another bone marrow test and a PET CT scan, to confirm the initial findings. On March 8th, 2012, Dr. Tiedemann confirmed that I had a very aggressive, Stage 4, Type B Cell Lymphoma coupled with Stage 3, Multiple Myeloma.
How do you deal with the emotions that come from this diagnoses when you feel that you have so much to offer to the world and are not ready to die?
How do you comfort your love and partner of 30 years?
How do you deal with your son telling you that he is afraid you are going to die?
How do you prepare to share this news with your daughter, who is halfway around the world?
How do you tell your 82-year old mom that you have two advanced stages of cancer and help her make sense of it when you are doing the same?
I went through every possible emotion – - from grief to rage, to anger. And sadness, and hope and vulnerability. And then, to acceptance that this is God’s will and there is a reason and a higher purpose. I am still not sure I understand this fully; however I know that I will be open to the learning and wisdom that this will bring me. And I feel God’s hand on my shoulder and know that he is with me through this journey.