It was a hellish holiday season, waiting on the results of my mom’s ultrasound for the lump in her side, found by her general practitioner.
It turns out she has numerous cysts on her kidneys which may be Polysystic Kidney Disease. The only problem is, PKD is hereditary, and there is no family history of this in our family; never heard of it. But I guess someone has to be first; we still have to see a nephroloogist for confirmation.
I am relieved of course, but annoyed. Her doctor did not alert her of the test results until Dec 26, to set up an appointment a few days later so he could have a face to face with her about this serious issue (and it was only after mom called them, late in the day, at my urging, that the test results were revealed and the appointment made). When we asked him about this timeline during the appointment, he said he wanted to wait until after Christmas so as not to ruin her holiday with the news.
Yes, this PKD sounds awful; I don’t like the idea of dialysis in our futures. But is it worse than cancer? Her doctor knows how much cancer surrounds her. The holiday would have been a tad easier to handle knowing the truth, rather than having that big dark cloud in the shape of a question mark hanging over or heads. Knowing her tests did NOT show cancer would’ve been nice.
Life experiences, not just cancer, taught me to expect the worst. Not just in a Murphy’s Law, if-anything-can-go-wrong-it-will kind of way. I remember the last time I did NOT expect the worst: when I got diagnosed. My aunt had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and I kept thinking, “what are the odds, it cannot possibly be cancer for me too.” Since then I’ve learned to hate the odds; problems might be improbable, but not impossible. Being in that 1 in 233 of women between 30 to 39 to get cancer, AND in that 15 to 20% of breast cancer patients who are HER2+, AND in that 20% of women who get a false negative mammogram (according to only one source, when Googling “false negative mammograms”, the main things that pop up are “false positive”), I just cannot think the odds are ever with me. Breast cancer made this straight white woman a minority—how the hell did that happen?
My reaction of automatic dread, of expecting the worst, is my current defense system. I am working on changing that; I know that my happiness and “who I am” is predicted and defined not by what happens to me but by how I react to it. Working on it, I swear.
But I am considering things that could be worse than cancer, since I seem to have developed carcinophobia. Alzheimer’s? Paralysis? Bipolar Disorder? These all seem horrible and they frighten me. But cancer is my special boogeyman. Better the devil I know???
Still, overall, my feelings on my mother’s news remains: at least it isn’t cancer.