As you may remember, about a year and a half ago my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer (about 6 months after his first “iffy” PSA test). It’s been a really long two years of waiting. Waiting for treatment plans, waiting for surgery, and now waiting to see what’s next.
I’m a pretty private person, and I rarely share my emotions. I’m a stubborn German, youngest child, Minnesotan. Raised by a stubborn German, youngest child, Minnesotan. Meanwhile, my poor mother is emotional, affectionate and talkative enough for the rest of the family. Add in two older brothers, one of which is the definition of an over-sharer. I love him, but seriously… My private life, and thoughts, are my own. I write to allow some of that off my chest, but I keep most things to myself.
I internalize and over-analyze everything. In the same breath, I’m a silver linings type of person. I’m trying to learn, to grow and to create a reason for this awful waiting. I’d like to think it’s helped me to realize who and what is important, taught me an unbelievable amount of patience, thought long and hard about what I want for my future (and where I want that to be), and now I’m getting the chance to use this experience to help comfort someone who’s just started on this same journey.
I recently started a new job, one that I am INCREDIBLY excited and proud to be doing. Given that I’m around new people, I especially wasn’t ready to share that my father had just undergone surgery to remove his prostate. In my first week on the job, my coworker’s husband was diagnosed with this same cancer. I felt compelled to tell her about my dad’s experience, in hopes to comfort her. Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked a few times – but I’d kept it a secret that the surgery didn’t clear him of cancer. I was afraid that this would be a scary thing for her to hear. Plus, it means our family is back in the waiting game again… The last thing anyone wants to hear when they just want answers for their own loved one.
So now her family will wait. And our family will wait. This is the part of cancer people don’t talk about. The toll that all of the waiting takes on you.
Others in the office now know about my family’s experience, and I’ve learned that in the office of just 20 people – 6 of them have had cancer. That’s about a third of our office. As we all talk through our stories, trying to comfort our coworker in this tough time, we all admit that the waiting is the hardest part. It tests your patience. It tests your faith (in medicine, in others, in a higher power).
For me, it’s also tested my ability to see a silver lining. My optimism has taken a big blow by this one. Now, it’s back to the waiting until the next doctor’s appointment – hoping for good news. I’m trying to bring back my half glass full attitude in the face of all this damn waiting.