Since Dan’s passing, I have learned to live again. I have learned to laugh, to smile, to envision a future full of love and life. These things weren’t easy, but they did happen, in time. I have learned that life after losing a loved one is possible. It changes you, completely. I will never be the same person that I was prior to Dan’s death, but I am still here. Heart beating, blood flowing. Death is something I no longer fear. Well, that was until yesterday.
My cancer diagnosis was terrifying at first, but once I learned that it was controllable and not a death sentence, it just became part of my life. Dying from this disease was never discussed. Again, that was until yesterday. Apparently I have a very badly placed tumor. Not only is it sitting on a large vein in my abdomen, but also a large artery. Both of which are going to need to be replaced with veins from my thigh during the surgery. Oh the surgery... Yikes. Surgery is scary for anyone, but I have adjusted to it and have had four now. This surgery is VERY different. This surgery worries me. This surgery could kill me, easily.40, 40, 20. Those are the percentages of survival that I was given by my surgeon. With a very somber and serious tone, he described to me, in detail, how very dangerous and risky having this surgery would be. There is a 40% chance that he can remove the tumor and replace the vein and artery, and I walk away with a full recovery; CANCER FREE. There is a 40% chance that he opens me up, and can’t even touch the tumor because of its location. At this point, I believe I just let the tumor run its course. The other 20%? Well, I am sure you can imagine. That 20% is driving me insane. Let’s discuss that 20%. Either the veins that they replaced don’t take, and my entire abdominal cavity dies, and I in turn, die. OR, my digestive track shuts down, and I have to be fed intravenously while I sleep at night for the rest of my life. And to top it off, I would have to wear a "waste bag" that would drain the waste from my stomach. Hmm… I do not like those statistics. 60% of my options will ultimately lead to my death; whether it be immediately, or after the tumor attacks my body to the point that it can no longer function. Now I have a very difficult decision to make. Do I risk the surgery? Take my chances with 40, 40, 20? Or do I walk away from all of this and live my life to the best of my ability until I can no longer ignore the tumor? I suddenly have a very bad headache.
The death of a loved one? A very scary thought. Dying yourself? An even scarier thought. This is what I deal with now. My own demise. How can I do this to my family and friends? Family and friends that have stood by my side thru my first bout of cancer, Dan’s death, and this lovely second bout. How can I leave my niece and nephew’s behind? They are two and one, they will not remember me. I think about the big things in life that I will miss; my sister having more babies, my brother eventually getting married and starting a family, my niece and nephews starting school and growing up. But do you know what scares me the most? Not being around for the little things. I can’t imagine not smelling BBQ in the air on a summer evening. I can’t imagine not carving pumpkins on Halloween. I can’t imagine not smelling my Mom’s perfume. I can’t imagine not holding Gracin in my arms. I can’t imagine not laughing with my little brother. These are the things that break my heart. These are the things that keep me smiling.
The alternative does not sound bad; spending eternity in Heaven with my Dan. However, I am not done living. I am not done loving my family and friends. I am not done making an impact in this world. I am just not done. 40, 40, 20. Do I risk it? Is that small 40% chance of surviving and being cancer free something to fight for? Or do I walk away. What would you do? 40, 40, 20. Not the odds I want, but they are what I am dealing with. This is my reality. This is my life.