Having Good Cancer


I studied the painting on the wall of the cold exam room. A jazz musician playing a shiny saxophone. I’d seen it before, but never gave it much attention. Today, though, I needed my thoughts to be focused on something other than my reason for being there.

My mind flashed back to a day nine years ago. I sat in the same room, paying no attention to the artwork. Probably planning the rest of my afternoon. Not knowing what would come next.

That day, when the doctor entered the room with a serious face, I didn’t notice. When she sat across from me, I thought nothing of it. Not until she spoke the word “cancer” did I have the faintest idea there was anything wrong.

“But this is the good kind of cancer,” she said in response to my shocked expression. I had no concept of good or bad at that moment. All I heard was “cancer.”

She said a few things I don’t remember. The words “surgeon” and “pathology” were the only ones that stuck. Her assistant would call me with more details. I figured I would ask questions then.

I just wanted to leave.

In the stillness of my car I cried. “Good cancer,” she said. I’ll focus on that. She didn’t have a sense of urgency getting me to the surgeon. That was another good sign. I’ve heard stories of people being sent straight to the hospital. I was going to wait for a phone call. I tried to convince myself that it really was “good.”

I don’t remember how long I sat there. My husband was out of town, so I picked up the phone and called one of my nurse friends. She repeated what the doctor said, that it was the good kind of cancer, and that I was going to be OK. But isn’t that what anyone would say to a sobbing friend?

My mind raced through so many different scenarios. What would happen to my four-year old son if I died before he grew up? He didn’t yet know what cancer was, so he wouldn’t understand what was happening. But at ten and thirteen, my other boys would. I would have to hold myself together, even though what I wanted to do was to curl up in a ball and cry.

“Please, God, let this be a mistake,” was the first stage of processing the news. But my conscience intervened. “Lisha, people get cancer diagnoses every day. Why should you be spared?”

“Then please, God, don’t let it be bad. No chemo, no disfiguring scars on my face.” My conscience again piped in. “Lisha, people have to go through chemo every day. Why should you be different? As for scars, vanity has no place here. This is about your life.”

I hung my head a little lower.

“Then God, just please don’t let me die. I want to grow old. I want to grow old with my husband, watching our sons grow up, playing with the grandchildren I dream about.”

Waiting.

Waiting.

I decided at that moment that I would not ask God for terms. I would pray to grow old. An old woman with scars to tell her tale.

My mind returned to the present as I heard footsteps approaching. I had time for one quick prayer before the doctor entered the room to deliver the results of yet another biopsy.

No terms this time. No conditions. Just please, God, let me grow old.

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Have you been diagnosed with a “Good Cancer?” I’d like to hear from you. 

_________________

I’m in the company of some fabulous writers and bloggers over at Yeah Write this week. Click on over see for yourself!

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46 thoughts on “Having Good Cancer

  1. Annie

    Glad you are still here 9 years later!
    I was diagnosed with ‘good cancer’ 1.5 years ago and am currently cancer-free, although not without some lifelong changes. My SIL was diagnosed with the same ‘good cancer’ over a year ago and is about to undergo either her second surgery or second round or radiation (they’ll find out after this whole body scan). I’m not so sure I find anything about her situation ‘good,’ sadly. Mine wasn’t exactly fun either. But doctors continue to call it ‘the good cancer.’ So bizarre.

    Reply
  2. Honest Mom

    I’m so glad you are doing okay. No cancer here – knock on wood. Hubs had some pre-cancerous cells removed from his face. But so far, so good. xo

    Reply
    1. Lisha Fink Post author

      Keep wearing sunscreen. And make it a habit for those girls of yours. When I was a child we didn’t know. But we know now. And we have to teach our kids the importance of taking care of themselves. Thanks for the kind words, Honest Mom.

      Reply
  3. Linda Roy

    My son had a “good cancer” too. ALL or Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. And it was a good cancer; the best kind to get when you’re a kid. It has the best treatment/cure rate. Today he’s cancer free and he’s been off treatment for a year. Whenever we used to tell people that it was actually a good cancer, they’d be so surprised. It’s hard to imagine feeling lucky about anything related to cancer. But we did. Congratulations on nine years and I wish you many, many more! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lisha Fink Post author

      One of my kids… that would be a whole different ball game.
      I’m so happy that your son is doing well, and I’ll add him to the list of folks for whom I pray. May we all have tales to tell our grandchildren!

      Reply
  4. Jen

    I think that is the perfect prayer to send out there. I haven’t had the total C diagnosis but the “in waiting” diagnosis that required surgery. I totally understand the anxiety every time you go back there! Lots of hugs your way!

    Reply
  5. http://jesterqueen.com

    Oh my GOD! You leave us with such perfect suspense. It’s the suspense you must carry with you every single day of your life. Please, not today. Let me grow old. I’m glad you’re aging along and dodging bullets all the way.

    Reply
    1. Lisha Fink Post author

      Thanks, jesterqueen. I do live with it every day. The warm feel of the sun on my skin once made me feel free and alive. Now it conjures up memories of pain. But I move forward every, ducking into the shade every chance I get. Because growing old is my plan. 🙂

      Reply
  6. wcdameron

    This certainly puts things into perspective. How often we sweat the small stuff, when we should be enjoying the now. Hope the “good cancer” stays that way.

    Reply
    1. Lisha Fink Post author

      I’m flattered for the kind words, good sir, because your words usually put things into perspective for me. I used to hate the term “Good Cancer,” but I’ve grown to appreciate it. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  7. Transitioning Mom

    Oh, Lisha, what a blessing you received in that diagnosis 9 years ago; early enough that you were safe and that you are here today, getting checked so that (even though the C word is still there) you are still getting the care you need. So glad you were checked, that it was the “good” cancer, and that you are sharing your experience to remind everyone to wear sunscreen. xoxo

    Reply
    1. Lisha Fink Post author

      Thank you for those kind words, T-Mom. I do see it as a blessing, because my perspective on life was altered forever. And I will continue to be the sunscreen police every chance I get! xoxo

      Reply
  8. Tina

    My husband was diagnosed with “good cancer”; testicular cancer. Although he waited too long and ended up having to do chemo and radiation anyway. But I’m the one who has almost died twice, so I can totally relate to sitting in that car.

    Reply
    1. Lisha Fink Post author

      Tina, I’m so sorry your husband had to endure chemo and radiation, but my prayers are with you both, that he may grow old by your side. And that you are able to relate the the fragile nature of life because of your experience makes you able to support one another through it all. Thank you for stopping by.

      Reply
  9. mamarific

    I have not been in your shoes, but I can imagine how tough it was to be there, especially with kids. The word “good” in front of “cancer” still doesn’t take the sting away. So glad you are OK.

    Reply
  10. blainecindy

    Wow! This a powerful and moving piece. You really managed to get me involved right from very first paragraph. I loved the way you showed how the thoughts ran through your mind, and I absolutely loved the ending, where you decided that all that mattered was that you lived long enough to grow old. Bravo!

    Reply
    1. Lisha Fink Post author

      Thank you for those kind words, blainecindy. I’m human, so every now and then I lose my perspective. It takes but a look in the mirror to remind me what’s important.

      Reply
    1. Lisha Fink Post author

      Thank you, Melanie. I didn’t mean to make you cry, but I did want to make you think. I checked out your stories of Monkey and Peanut, and I think you’d feel the same way. And I have those black, wing-tipped Mary Janes in the photo of your post from a few days ago. 😉

      Reply
  11. loisaltermark

    Oh, Lisha, I’m so happy this is the story you’re telling nine years later, and I hope you keep telling it every nine years until you really are a very old woman. I will still be reading. xo

    Reply
  12. Kim Tackett

    Oh, I love this line: An old woman with scars to tell her tale…..we will all have scars (we all DO have scars). Thank you for sharing your story. Beautifully done.

    Reply
  13. Cathy

    Many blessings are around you and they will come your way. Stay positive. Stay focused. Keep your eye on the prize. LIFE.

    Our 21 year old son was told at Thanksgiving he has testicular cancer. It is highly treatable; 99%. But every month he must go for tests; this will happen the rest of his life. Each month hubby and I hold our breaths. Our son? Fine as anything. He said, “Mom, I don’t even think about it.” Little prayers are answered every day. He is our big one.

    I am with you on this one, Lisha. If you ever need to talk. xo

    Reply
  14. Helene Bludman

    I was diagnosed with a basal cell carcinoma on my face when my middle child was just two months old. Before I had a chance to speak with my doctor, I was in total panic mode and already imagining my children without a mother. Thank God everything turned out fine and I have not had a recurrence and I am so grateful that I was spared a worse fate.

    Reply
    1. Lisha @ The Lucky Mom Post author

      Oh, I remember panic mode. Would my kids grow up without me? Would my husband pick out a decent stepmother for them? I went through all the phases of grief coming to terms. I have had more “pre-cancers” than I can remember, but this is my second malignancy. So now I get to go every six months for full body checks. But, as you said, I’m thankful that I have a story to tell. I hope to tell it for a long, long time.

      Reply

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