The sun was shining. Life wasn’t perfect but it was good. It was the start of what I’d assumed was going to be the greatest summer holidays yet. The school year was over, the weather was glorious, I was alive and wearing a floral dress on a monday morning. Everything was ok. I was expecting to get the results of my biopsy back that day. I’d had problems with a cough for about two months prior. A bout of bronchitis my doctor had called it. She gave me antibiotics and a nasal spray and told me to rest. That was all pretty manageable. She couldn’t explain my overtly swollen glands or the night sweats I’d been having though. When I went back to her, complaining that the antibiotics hadn’t really worked and I was still sweating profusely each night, she sent me to have X-rays taken. That’s when the nurse asked me how long I’d had the lumps in my neck for. I’m sorry lumps you say… what fucking lumps?
I was always brushing things off. It was in my nature. I had a little cold, so what? Never once did I imagine this could be something more severe. The following day a specialist sat me down and explained the lymph nodes in my neck were severally swollen. Abnormally swollen. The worst case scenario… this was lymphoma, (blood cancer) or TB. Or it was just a viral infection. Still the tears rolled down my cheeks. Just the thought that me, little old me could possibly have cancer was absurd. I didn’t get sick. I was Michelle. I bounced back from anything. So I brushed the thought away. Not me. Now now. Not this young. I just had a little infection. Everything would be fine. I was invincible.
Still, they had to make sure and so I was booked in for a biopsy. This is when they send you into the hospital, make you remove all your piercings (annoying), put on some starchy granny panties and a hospital robe and then have an anaesthetist stick a needle into your arm (mine was notably very attractive… not the needle, the guy… he looked like Idris elba. Vibes!) and put you to sleep. I woke up 40 minutes later with two lymph nodes gone from my neck and feeling drowsier than a drowsy person on drowsy pills. Then the pain kicked in. This is when the nurse injected me with something called panadeine which made my whole body feel very nice and high and floaty and I invited all the nurses to come round to my house to have milkshakes with me. Everything went well. My holiday was back on track. Well, that was until Monday’s phone call. I was with my best friend, Erin, finishing lunch. It was my dad.
”Come home… the results of the biopsy are in. They’re serious.”
With a pounding heart and watery eyes, I drove home. Winding my way round Kloof Nek, impatiently, all of my biggest fears raced through my head simultaneously. I pulled into the driveway, bounded up the stairs and into my father’s study, curling myself into a ball on his office chair, the tears began to fall, before I even heard the words. Did I already know, subconsciously that my entire world was about to change, forever?
“What is it dad?”, the words barely escaped my lips.
“Cancer” he whispered, grabbing my hand.
Every emotion, every single possible negative emotion one could ever feel seemed to course violently through my mind, all at once. Devastation, fear, sadness, anger, total, utter despair.
Nothing in life can ever ever prepare you to hear the words,
“You have cancer…”