After my initial cancer diagnosis, the first hospital that I was admitted to was able to determine that I had a type of lymphoma but did not have the expertise to diagnosis and treat this type of cancer. Therefore, I had to be transferred to another hospital out of town that specialized in lymphomas which gave me a great sense of security and hope that I would have a fighting chance at beating this type of cancer. Honestly, I vaguely remember hearing the word lymphoma, but I had no idea what that word meant, nor did I know any details. I was surprised to learn that this word (lymphoma) translated to or meant cancer. Also, the fact that I couldn’t breathe well even with the oxygen, my blood pressure was extremely high due to the tumor compressing on vena cava (this is one of the main arteries that pump blood from the heart to the rest of the body) and the extreme levels of pain from the tumor punching in the inside between my chest bones. All these feelings that consumed my body were the only focus that stood out at that time.
Once I was admitted to the out-of-town hospital, I remember them taking me into a room in a different floor, bringing in the sonogram machine and displaying what look like scans of the inside of my body on a screen. Then the medical staff told me that they were going to use the sonogram machine to guide them to perform a biopsy of the tumor using a needle gun. I remember three medical staff carefully looking at the sonogram screen to ensure that when they inserted the needle that they wouldn’t puncture my heart and lung since the tumor was all around in this area. Also, I recall that during the procedure they had displayed various scans on the lighted board. Being a naturally curious person, I kept looking at the scans but could not make out what the shadow part was and why I really could not see much else. I recall this man asking me if I understood the images. I responded to him not really. With sad eyes, he showed me on the scan, the area (which I call the shadow part) that was the tumor covered inside of me. In disbelief, I told him that it was a very large area. He looked at me with eyes of compassion and told me yes, it is. He went on to say I wanted to show you what we are seeing. A feeling of shock overcame me which in turn caused me to go into a state of defense and survival mode. In all honesty, I suppressed my feelings and became numb. I went into defense mode and told myself, I was not going to let this affect me, I was going to fight, and I was going to survive.
Now, in retrospect, I don’t think this is the response he and the other medical staff members were expecting. I say this because they looked at me with a kind of puzzled expression on their faces and then looked at each other with the same expression. Due to my reaction to this news and the lack of emotion I displayed when the doctors gave me the diagnosis and small chance of survival, they sent the chaplain to visit with me in my room. They also offered if I wanted to speak with a counselor because they thought I was denial. This might have been partially true, but we all know that not everyone reacts the same way when receiving devasting news. Yes, at that time I did not cry or have much of an emotional reaction, but that is how I cope and deal with difficult situations in the spur of the moment. I used this to my strength to fight cancer.
Everyone is different in their reactions due to different reasons. At times, perhaps people may not display a reaction that we might think should occur, but then again, they may just process things differently from us. This is a lesson that I have learned from my own experience and from others. We may experience the same or similar situation but two people may process the same information differently. Remember always be yourself don’t change who you are for anyone else. We are all unique individuals. Respect to all for being you.