It’s the waiting. The layers and layers of waiting. Every single thing in this cancer experience involves waiting. Sitting in big waiting rooms that lead to smaller waiting rooms that lead to machinery and tests that lead to seven to ten working days until the doctor gets the results, that lead to appointments that later get rescheduled because more tests have to be conducted and more results have to be waited for.
Last week the surgeon told me I could call the Women’s Breast Health Centre today and ask for the results from the bone scan, the chest x-ray and the abdominal scan. This is hugely significant stuff. It could mean the difference between Stage I and Stage IV cancer. I didn’t want to be alone when I got these test results, so GC said he would come over around 10:00 and be here with me when I made the call.
At 10:00 I took a deep breath and made the call. I got the answering machine for the nurses’ line, which is normal. I left a detailed message and asked for someone to call me back.
Three hours later I phoned again and left another message. That was two hours and forty-three minutes ago.
Basically GC and I have spent all day waiting for the phone to ring. He missed a day’s work for this. And, as the day drags on, I find it harder and harder to remain positive. If the news were good, the nurses would probably be able to make the call themselves. But if the news is bad, maybe they have to wait for the doctor to find time to make the call. And the doctor is probably busy saving other people’s lives.
The clock keeps ticking and I keep waiting for tests, for test results, for appointments, for phone calls, for a treatment plan, for surgery, for information, for news.
Meanwhile, the cancer waits for no-one. I read the other day that breast cancer tumors, on average, double in size every hundred days. Mine was discovered 70 days ago. (It took 44 days to go from lump to diagnosis.)