By Michael Owen
The invasive aspects of this little medical adventure were over at this point. One-way traffic had been restored to the UFH, which I hope will remain the case forevermore.
But then the waiting began. Did I have bladder cancer or not? I told myself I would just assume that I did in fact have the Big C. That way, I could only be pleasantly surprised by the pathology report, but not disappointed.
Bullshit. You can fool a lot of people, but not yourself.
It took almost a week to get the results, a week of dread despite the nonchalant front I tried to put up.
During this week, I thought back to the time this little ordeal began. Since that time, I discovered that I know several people who have had bladder cancer and survived, some with no significant after-effects, some with bothersome but not disfiguring outcomes. They were all supportive and more than willing to talk and to answer questions — some pretty personal questions, as you might imagine.
I felt encouraged. I can survive this. But still, given the choice …
Then came the day the doctor’s name popped up on my iPhone. It took a few rings before I could answer. All my “I’m prepared for this” bullshit suddenly evaporated.
“Good news, Mike. There’s no sign of cancer.”
He kept talking, but I wasn’t hearing him. I heard nothing. My mind went to all the great friends and family who’d been there with so many thoughts and prayers and so much support for us.
Us. Oh shit. Us!
Shut up Doc, I have to call Allison.
OK, I don’t have cancer, thank you God.
But the damndest thing is, I seem to have some mild form of survivor’s guilt. Believe me, I’m not complaining. I’m more puzzled than anything else.
Friends who have had cancer, and not just bladder cancer, shared their situations with me while I was waiting, offering me hope and support. Some have survived or are surviving their cancer. Some may not survive it. One, a very dear friend, lived long enough to congratulate me heartily, then died just this week.
They all propped me up when I needed it most. Then, poof! No cancer.
Lord knows I wasn’t disappointed by the diagnosis. But since, I’ve felt oddly guilty, especially when my cancer survivor friends congratulate me. They are genuinely happy for me, of course, and I appreciate that deeply. But I can’t help but feel as if I briefly and undeservedly intruded on their fraternity.
The human mind is a funny thing, isn’t it?
Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip through my medical adventure, even if it was on the Urethra Franklin Highway. It’s a road I hope never to travel again … at least not northbound.
One-way only from now on, God willing.