Ugh. Denial. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Is it both? I think it’s both. At the very least, it’s a coping mechanism. At the worst, it’s a complete removal of coping.
For me, my first reaction to something horrible is denial. My brain buffers me with “No! It can’t be!” The cushion stays there while I’m processing the reality.
October, 2015- I was told I had cancer. I’d gone into the surgeon’s office to a) get the stitches removed from my head and b) to find out the results of the biopsy they did on the lump they removed from my head. It’d been about 2 weeks and I hadn’t heard anything from anyone, so I figured it must not be bad. I mean, they would’ve called if it had been bad, right? Instead, it was a major f*** up on communication with me, the patient. The PA was there to take out the stitches. I ask what the results of the biopsy were. “Oh, they didn’t give you those yet?” “No.” She reads the paper. “It came back with Large B-Cell Lymphoma.”
My brain goes blank. “Huh?” “I’m sorry,” she says. “Wait, what?” says I. I’m there by myself because, well, see the above paragraph. Among the fog of shock, there appears bits of denial. Did she just say what I thought I heard? “Can I see the report?” While I’m reading it, she’s saying something, but it’s not registering. My brain is busy doing a lot of other things all at once. “What is Lymphoma?” “It’s cancer that attacks the immune system.” “Oh.” The ‘C’ word. The reality cuts through like a spike in my brain. I start to cry. I don’t know why I’m crying. It’s not going to help.
As I’m driving home, I’m fighting the denial. Is this real? Yes. This is a reality that I have to face. At this point I don’t even know how bad it is. I’ll have to have a P.E.T. scan to find out if it’s in other places in my body. That’s what they call staging. As in Stage 1, 2,3, or 4. Turns out it was Stage 4, as in it was in several places in my body.
Fast forward to now. I just had my 1 year CT scan and all is clear. It’s been clear for the past year. Whew!
But, Hubs just got news that he has a mass on one of his kidneys. He has to have a CT scan to see what it is. At this point, for me, the terror of something happening to him is paralyzing. I don’t have denial because we don’t know much yet. We have hope though, that it’s nothing. It could be nothing. It could be something. But we hope & pray for the nothing.
I’ll have to tell my sister, once we know more. Hopefully, there won’t be much to tell. She is the queen of denial. When I told her about my cancer, she said a lady she knows just takes a pill every day for it and she’s fine. Not exactly a realistic reaction, but I know how she copes with things. Not all that well. It’s difficult to deal with someone else’s denial when you are trying to overcome your own. Hope and strength are a better defense than denial in my book.