In a little over two months, I went from "I might have cancer" to "I have cancer" to "I had cancer."
I had cancer.
I HAD cancer.
I had cancer. Then I had surgery. And, because my surgeon absolutely kicks ass, I now do not have cancer any longer. There's a ten percent chance it might come back some day--fifteen percent at the outside--but that still leaves me an eighty-five percent chance, at worst, of not ever having this cancer again. If somebody told you, "Look, the *least* we could offer you would be an 85% chance of being cured for good," wouldn't you take it? I know I will.
What I have right now is a huge hole in my head and no time off available at work. I have debts to pay--thankfully, none of them is out of reckoning--and muscle mass to rebuild and an obturator to get used to. I have rehab to finish and speech to relearn and swallowing to perfect. I still have post-operative slough to rinse out of my head every night, but that's lessening considerably as the days go on. I have jaw muscles that are responding very slowly to Flexeril and a stretching routine.
I've also got anxiety attacks. For some reason, they started about a week and a half ago, just as I was pulling out of the Lortab-induced fog I'd been in. I don't know why they didn't start before surgery; Beloved Sis has the theory--and I think it's a good one--that I'm suffering from some form of PTSD. Somehow, everything worked itself out in such a way that my anxiety over matters could reach a peak with every new development, and now that I don't have any new developments (except not having cancer), the anxiety is free-floating and looking for a place to land.
I have grief. The tumor somehow was smaller in person than it looked on any of the scans that pinpointed it. Don't ask me how that's possible. I mean, this particular tumor is quite susceptible to immune function; maybe we all did something right. I can't explain it logically, but again, I'll take it.
But that means that I lost a whole lot more of my mouth than I probably needed to. Don't get me wrong: I am not complaining in the least. The trouble with low-grade tumors is that they don't respond well to things like radiation; therefore, getting it out with good margins was exactly what I wanted. I told Dr. Crane that I liked aggressive, that aggressive was good, and I'm happy with the results....
......but I miss my uvula.
I have a whole community of new friends thanks to this. People who have rare cancers tend to really stick tight to each other.
I have yet another second chance. I've gotten so dadratted many of 'em, you'd think they'd've worn out by now, but here's another one.
For now, all I have to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other. These next few weeks may be harder than the last few, as everything gets shaken out into the new normal. All I have to do is get well, and get strong again, and get used to breathing past a plastic plate.
Later I'll integrate the Old Jo, the New Jo, and the Jo that had cancer for those months. Right now I'm going to eat and rest and watch some Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes on Netflix.