Getting the Diagnosis
I remember his shirt. It was white with thin black stripes, and I saw his back when I entered the room. His presence told me everything. It was February 1993, and I had just walked out of the OR where a surgeon had done a breast biopsy. "Your surgeon can talk with you in this room" said someone. And, when I walked in, I saw my husband's back.
If the news had been good, he would not have been there. The next time, in 2005, it was a phone call from that same husband. Why the pathologist had called him and not me is a very good question, but I did not have the energy then or now to be distressed. The second time, the first words were: "It isn't what we wanted."
I am sure that every one of us remembers those moments. And here is a very good essay from The New York Times about them. Although she has a more or less happy ending (wish that were true for everyone), the feelings are beautifully described:
Was It Cancer? Getting the Diagnosis
— I OFTEN wondered what it would be like to have a cancer growing inside your body. To suddenly discover you are carrying something that is eating you away, growing in an ugly, consuming mass in or around your bones or organs. To be blithely stepping through life, unaware that your insides are betraying you.
I didn’t expect to find out, though, at least not for decades. I have always been healthy and strong; I regularly do hot yoga and swim a two-kilometer stretch in a bay teeming with fish near my home in Sydney, all while caring for my two little kids, hosting a TV show, writing columns and making the final edits on the book I am writing.