It has been almost four weeks since I heard the news – after a full day of arbitration, while I was in Ann Arbor. I came back to the office and saw calls from my doctor and the doctor who had biopsied a lymph node on my neck. I knew that was not good. I then made the call that changed my life forever. I was told that the biopsy showed I had metastasized cancer of unknown origin – that I had to have a CT scan of my chest and had to see an oncologist that week. It was surreal and still is – I am healthy, do yoga, meditate, eat well and take care of myself. My family lives long and healthy lives. And as many people have said to me – I am the last person one would expect to have cancer, let alone stage IV. Yes, that’s right – stage IV, because it has metastasized to my liver as well. That night was a blur – I was in such shock that I could not react and felt numb. All I thought was you must be kidding – how could I have cancer, let alone stage IV. I am young, healthy, do yoga, meditate, eat well, in other words, do everything right. What the heck!!!!
First call was to my husband – his reaction said it all – “NO, Marilyn, NO” – it was awful and broke my numbness and shock. I then had to make the longest drive I can ever recall – driving 45 minutes home, while crying and talking on the phone to keep me going. Deb, one of my two best friends since law school, insisted that I pull over and she and her husband would drive to get me, but I refused, telling her by the time she reached me I could already be home.
The next week was a nightmare in more ways than one – for the first time in my life I was in an utter panic, getting worse by the day, EXCEPT when I was in arbitration when the lawyer in me took over and I forgot about anything other than the trial I was in and winning the case. Friday I went to see the first oncologist – let call him Dr. Death. Why that name –he walked in with the most serious and grave look on his face, telling me, among other things, that it was very, very serious, that perhaps I could go into partial or complete remission, but IT WILL RECUR, and then who knows. And he started talking treatment before we even knew where was the source. And that if I was lucky I would get a partial remission, maybe a complete one, but “it will recur.” Lovely. I walked out and said I am not treating here.
That afternoon, a Friday, my friends Deb and Judy went to work and by the afternoon, I had an appointment first thing Monday morning at Karmanos, a comprehensive cancer center in Detroit. But my panic did not subside. Indeed, the next day in an attempt to distract me, my kids took me to Somerset to shop for my son but I did not enjoy it at all. Given he fashionista in me, this was a shock to everyone. I was too panicked. Finally that night I gave in and took 1/2 Zanax – that did it and the spiral stopped. What a great drug!!!!!
I woke up Sunday morning with a new attitude. The first words out of my mouth were “F*** Cancer” I will beat this and live. I called my kids and let them hear my voice so that they could see it sounded normal. Next stop – Karmanos.
It is true that in an instant your life can change – you take it for granted that everything will remain the same. Then you get news, like this, and realize nothing will ever be the same, that you cannot take any minute, any hour, or any day for granted, and you must savor every second and be amazed at what you have.