Last week, my good friend "Zoe" went to work, came home, fed the kids, cleaned the house a bit, got in an argument with her hubby and went to bed. The next day, her stomach was hurting something awful. She went to the ER and was admitted. She had a huge mass on her ovary, was running a fever, and her blood work came back positive for the gene that expresses with ovarian cancer. She got her official diagnosis that very night. Next up were more tests the next day to find out the type, staging, and best course of treatment.
The next day, she got her PT-scan and was transferred to a cancer hospital via ambulance. A biopsy ensued, which came back inconclusive. A reason to celebrate? Not so fast... Chemo was starting up the next day.
Last night, I got a text from our mutual friend. Zoe was not doing well, was heading into emergency surgery. The cancer had eaten away a huge part of her bowels and there was an enormous mass. They brought her to full consciousness just long enough to ask her if she was a "Do Not Resuscitate" and, if she was, she needed to sign paper work. She said no. They put her back under for surgery. Her odds of making it through surgery ok were about 50-50. How can this be possible? Just days before, she was a normal person with a normal life, cancer and big changes not even on the horizon! But it was true, all to horrible, awfully true.
My friend and I cried. She was at the hospital; I was too far away to be there. At 2:15 AM I got a text. Zoe was still in surgery but the doctor had come out to talk to the family. Zoe was doing really well. They took out a huge part of her bowel and she was getting a full colostomy. They had also removed her cancerous tumor. She would have two bags for the rest of her life due to the colostomy but by the end of surgery, she would be alive. After recovery, she would need to start chemo for her primary ovarian cancer. Not an easy road but fighting (and winning) was now possible. At 2:15 AM after reading the text, I sat up and bed and cried. A mixture of hatred towards cancer, and thanking God for letting her live so she could fight like hell, get well, and get back to the business of life.
And the lesson learned through all of this? Life is normal. Until it's not. And when that moment comes is anyone's guess. The banality of bad news. Life changing events rarely come with warnings. We are doing life's ordinary stuff when everything changes in one instant. You know, we're walking the dog, putting dishes away, going through emails at work, sleeping... And life as we know it ends. Just like that. No fanfare. And how do we cope? Who knows.
And that's why I've learned to live. Live BIG and GRAND as often as I can. As often as my health and treatments allow, and responsibilities to children, self, family and loved ones.
And I pray and hope for Zoe. One more warrior to cheer on. Please, God, let her be ok.