When good news feels like bad news

Buried in here is a silver lining if I could just hold onto it.

In January, my mom had an appointment to find out if her cancer was in remission.

Her doctor, who I both like and respect, was measuredly optimistic. The chemo was working, and most of the enlarged lymph nodes from previous scans were gone. There were two remaining grey areas in her chest and one of her adrenal glands. It wasn’t clear if they had ever been cancerous, or if they were now, but the doctor suggested doing two more rounds of chemo just to be sure.

Mom arrived the next morning for treatment and was told by a different doctor that with a scan as good as her’s she was done! Go home!

She did a happy dance in the oncology office.

Three hours later, she was called by yet another person, and told that her doctor wanted more chemo (duh, we knew that), could she come back next week. Three days after that, it was put off again so Mom could have more tests.

It felt like the scene in The Princess Bride where the Dread Pirate Roberts ends every day with, “Goodnight, Wesley. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”

For the fourth time in three weeks, Mom prepared herself for chemo.

And then…her doctor called the night before to say that she shouldn’t have it, for now. She explained that Mom was considered, “Pet Negative,” meaning her pet scan didn’t show any cancer.

I asked, “Does that mean she is in remission?”

“Some would say that,” the doctor said. “We can’t see any cancer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not there.”

This was good news, right?

Hidden within the back and forth, and back and forth, is that Mom doesn’t have to receive more treatment, perhaps forever. She’ll have another scan in two months, but for now her calendar, and life, is wide open.

That wasn’t how I heard it, though. I was pissed.

Six months ago we were told that Mom was a shoe-in for remission, and my A-student sights have been set on that gold star ever since. This was not the cancer-ending crescendo I was counting on.

In fact, it sounded frustratingly familiar.

Eleven years ago, my white blob of a brain tumor was nearly removed. The doctors couldn’t risk taking all of it, so they left a little blobby reminder that I visit on MRIs every year. While I should be fine, there remains a chance that I’m not.

Talking to my Mom’s doctor brought me right back to where I was then. Feeling like our goal post kept getting moved. That it was up to someone else to let us move on.

It took me a couple days to see the bigger picture.

How lucky we are. How special this time is, in both of our lives. And the big one — that no one is standing in the way of us celebrating Right Now.

I could throw myself a pity party (okay, I just did) over neither of us getting the moment I believe that we deserved…or I could give it to us.

We have a celebratory dinner planned this week. I found a box of old photos in a closet, and will bring them so that we can share memories, and laughs.

As for my celebration, I booked a float sandwich. Great name, right? Sixty-minutes of peaceful floatation in a pool of warm water and Epsom salts followed by a Swedish massage.

Someone pop the champagne. We did it!

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9 thoughts on “When good news feels like bad news

  1. Lauree, I appreciate your sharing this journey, your roller coaster of emotions, i.e., confusion
    and frustration….and that now you can and will celebrate with your mom. I was reminded this week,
    during the season of lent, that the Kingdom of God is not in the future, it is not what awaits us in heaven, it is in the present. Our life is the Kingdom of God. Let’s live it with gratitude and beauty and holiness and grace. It’s not so much our words but our actions, and I greatly admire how you live your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lauree~ Beautifully written. Cancer has struck our family three times. It is tough to find that silver lining. Be strong! Best to you and your mom. ~Michele


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