But not exactly bad news, either. Just not the news we wanted to hear.
Last week, my wife, Loren, who was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer late last year, received the results of her latest brain scan. It shows many lesions shrinking, which is good, but others starting to grow again. And, most worrisome of all, a new lesion that wasn’t detectable before.
I got the news over the phone, while Loren was away at yoga. Her radiologist asked to speak to Loren, but she was not home, so I asked if she would like to leave a message instead.
She said, “This is Loren’s doctor, and I’m calling with the results of her MRI. Please tell her I’ll call back tomorrow, maybe sometime around noon.”
I said, “This is Loren’s husband, and can you, maybe, give me hint about what they say?”
She paused for a moment. “There’s good news and bad news. The cancer in her spine is gone, completely wiped out. But she has increased activity in parts of her brain. Very small lesions. I’m going to recommend CyberKnife, which she can do at the main campus. It’s more targeted than what I can do down here.”
I took notes and thanked her for the call. I paused. She paused. I said, “Alright.” She said, “Okay.” And I hung up.
Bad news always seems to come this way. First we learn there’s something wrong, then we get more details, more information. After a day or two, we have a vague sense of what’s going on, what’s next, and what it all means. Not the full picture, of course, because the only real question we have is: How much time does Loren have? And how much of that time is going to be good?
Nobody knows. And nobody can know. We can only guess, and look at statistics, and hope and pray that Loren is an outlier on the good side of the curve.
All we can do is get on with our lives. All we can do is spend every moment we have as best we can, together and happy, with family and friends. Just like everyone else. Just like Oprah says.
I just wish it wasn’t so hard.
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