Feb 18, 2013 - 3:10 am
I see a lot of new folks on here. This is not meant to depress or be a downer, but if you were like me your first day, week of diagnosis your world was spinning as much as your head. You are NOT alone and your online family cares. Here is my first day of diagnosis story
It was a Friday night at 6pm when my doctor called with the results of my CT scan to the head and neck which had been performed earlier that same day. I said to my doctor “this is not going to be good if you are calling me on Friday at 6pm” …I was right, the news was NOT good. She told me about the “mass” on the left base of my tongue and informed me it appears to have spread to one lymph node on the same side of my neck.
I had been reading on-line for some of the worst case scenarios for a couple of weeks (since I had been feeling terrible even before my lymph node swelled up). My research and based on what the doctor said I determined I was more than likely at stage III or greater if this was to be cancer. I remember thinking to myself this is one of many times in life I hope I am “bad” wrong.
As is apparently the unspoken rule all doctors adhere to, she would not say for sure without a biopsy and an ENT to review all the records, that it was for sure cancer, but she did admit it did not look promising in so much as it was “not” cancer.
This next statement might make me sound to be brave or crazy, but I am neither. I did not tell my wife that night about my scan results. In fact I did not tell her for another five days. I did not tell her until the night before our visit to the ENT. I did not tell her because I did not know how. She was the mother of our five “young” children. How could I give her such news? How do I tell her I may not be around in 2 years, 3 years or whenever. If it was cancer, stage III or greater, the statistics say there’s a 40% chance I will not be around in 5 years. How can I be sure it even was cancer? I was afraid to tell her. I was afraid myself of my future.
We had the “pumpkin lighting festival” coming up the next day (Saturday) at the Pancake House. It was to be a family event. We had gone last year and all was normal. I will tell her Monday, that way I can at least have a weekend without this dark cloud hanging over our heads. No, I should tell her immediately, she would want to know. No, I will have to wait because she works the next 3 days. If I tell her today, she will be a mess and not be able to function at her job, much less deal with the day to day of family life. On and on the reasons kept coming. At the same time I wanted to tell her because I was scared. I felt incredibly alone. She was my best friend, my wife. If ever I needed to lean on her it was now!
It was a night or two after my scan, but still days before I had told my wife of the scan results, that I was putting my son West to bed. I kissed him good night and sent him upstairs to his room when he suddenly turned to me half way up the stairs and asked me “Daddy, how old will I be when you die”? I can’t imagine what my face must have looked like. All I could think to myself was what?! Then I asked West, “why would you ask me a question like that?” (I wanted to say why now, why that question but I caught myself and realized there is no way he could know what is going on or what was happening). So I gathered myself and said “West, I don’t know how old you will be when I die. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. I could die tonight of a heart attack, next week in a car accident or years from now of old age. But no matter how old you are when I die, I will always love you and be a part of you and I will be waiting in heaven for you”. West then stated in a matter of fact tone “I hope I am a million years old when you die”! I responded “me too West, me too”.
I then went to the bathroom and turned on the water, as if I were taking a shower, and had a very good cry. I remember distinctly praying “Lord, I need you right now”. I had no specific request or needs I asked for, I just remember being utterly drained and repeating those same words quite a few times.
Fast foward 13 months from the date of my last treatment and I take no meds of any kind for pain, I have 90% of my taste back, I eat anything I want (slow and chew alot followed by water) but I can east breads, salads, meat. I cut wood for the winter and I hunt, snowmobile every chance I get. I can truly say the good Lord must have heard my many prayers (especially those cried at night by myself in the bathroom) ...though terribly not worthy of His blessings, here I am and I am thankful to Him.
~ Tim Cogdill / Head & Neck Cancer Survivor