Caller ID said it was the doctor’s office.
By now, I recognized the phone number.
And I knew what it was about.
Recently, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Once I got over that shocking news, I quickly realized this was only the beginning of the roller-coaster ride.
The next hill to climb was getting a CT scan and a bone scan. And while neither procedure is painful or problematic, the fear lies in what they might find.
What they’re looking for is more cancer. They’ve already determined your prostate gland is engaged, as they say. Now, they want to know if the disease has spread.
We all know what that means.
We’ve all watched people shake their heads slowly when told Uncle Joe’s cancer had spread from one vital organ to another.
There are a lot of big medical words for this process, but it usually translates into a death sentence.
Catching cancer early is as close as we’ve come to a cure. The medical community can do all manner of miracles to save your life if cancer is caught early.
If it’s not, well, too bad about Uncle Joe.
A nice young lady named India pushed some dye into the IV and I immediately felt its warm sensation flowing through my body.
She told me to relax, that the machine would do the work.
The machine is the CT scan, a benign behemoth that slowly moves back and forth, up and down, quietly mapping your innards.
The good news is it doesn’t hurt and all you have to do is lie still.
The bad news is you don’t know what you don’t know.
The subtle hum of the machine belies its importance. It plies its ponderous course with a melancholy monotony. If something’s wrong, it hums. If everything’s fine, it hums.
When it’s over, you get up and leave.
The nice young lady does not know the specifics of your illness. She runs the machine. The results are someone else’s job.
Two days later, I did the same thing at a different place. A similar machine droned over me for a half-hour, looking for bad news in my bones.
Nobody says anything about anything.
You just get dressed and leave.
A lady’s voice
It doesn’t take long to figure it out.
If it’s good news, the nurses call.
If it’s bad news, well, that’s why doctors make the big bucks.
So it was that my cell phone rang just as I was walking into work. I paused, looked at the Caller ID number and recognized it was the doctor’s office.
I politely stepped away from the people I was chatting with. I let it ring three times, which I never do.
A thousand things run through your mind at times such as this.
I don’t know how you handle things, but I sort them out early, compartmentalize them into what-ifs, then store them into mental cubbyholes until the subject comes up again.
The answer to this what-if was on the other end of the line.
Worse-case scenario: The cancer has spread to other organs.
Even-worse-case scenario: The cancer is in your bones.
I punched the button and said hello.
It was a lady’s voice.
I began to breathe.