The Call that Changed it All
I had been loading the dishwasher and my hands were still wet, but I wrapped my arms tight around him anyway. I loved this man more than life itself.
He was my husband, my honest-to-God best friend, the only man I had ever “known” (you know, in a Biblical sense), and I needed him to know I would be there no matter what. I needed him to see through my actions that the last week had really changed me, and my perspective, forever. That I was ready to love him with all I had? After four years together, I finally felt like I was seeing him again for who he truly was.
My head against his warm chest, tucked right there under his chin, I felt his heartbeat quicken. He looked down at me and took a deep breath. That’s when I realized that I wasn’t breathing at all.
“Hello… This is Nick.”
Nick covered the microphone end of his iPhone and looked down at me, “It’s the doctor.” His voice sounded rough and strained.
This was it.
We would FINALLY know what put Nick in the hospital for over a week. They were calling to tell us WHAT IN THE WORLD that alien-like jelly material and cantaloupe-sized tumor were doing in his abdomen! And, what exactly that crapola was made of! We would know, for sure, if this battle was over or had hardly even begun.
I inched up on my tiptoes to get my ear next to the phone. They were going to tell us that it was just a cyst! An easily-dealt-with infection! A rare-but-removable parasite! It would make for a good story to tell the kids later on, but other than that, we would be done with it! We would go on getting to live our lives with our newfound second chance! Surely, they would say we had had ABSOLUTELY nothing to worry about… That’s what they were going to tell us… I was feeling pretty certain of it.
“Nick… I haven’t ever seen anything like that before. I never, in all my years, encountered something like that… that mucus… jelly-like. That’s why we couldn’t see it on the scan, you know? It was so fluid-like and sticky… Anyway, that’s why the lab results took so long. It was just… the labs hadn’t seen anything like it either. We sent it to the University of Washington and they tried to identify it, but couldn’t. So, they had to forward it on to a lab in Utah, like I said. Anyway… I’m sorry it took so long…” He cleared his throat and paused.
Nick didn’t say a word and neither did I. But, I really wanted to shout, “Get to the point, dude!”
“Nick,” the surgeon started again. “I’m so sorry. But, it IS cancer. The mass, all the mucus… all of it is cancerous. It’s called Mucinous Adenocarcinoma and it’s a cancer that originates in your appendix. I had to read up on it before I called you. I’ve never even heard of it except maybe a long time ago in medical school. It’s a form of Appendix Cancer, but yours spread beyond the appendix when it burst. It’s really rare. I’m so sorry.”
The room darkened around me and I couldn’t see anything other than a little pinhole which Nick’s face occupied. I thought I might pass out. I stayed silent but I squeezed Nick harder than I had before. “Ouch! Not so hard, love,” he whispered.
I had forgotten about his incision. Still 7 inches long, the bandage horizontally centered on his abdomen, less than a week healed. I loosened my grip.
“What does this mean?” Nick asked.
“I don’t know. Honestly… I really don’t know. I’ve set you up with an appointment with an Oncologist. On Tuesday.” It was a Friday. More waiting loomed in our future. “You’ll have to get more information from him then. Again, I am so sorry.”
“Yeah. It’s okay. Thank you.” Nick hung up. His phone dropped swiftly out of his hand and landed on the floor with a thud, as he reached for me and wrapped me up. We crumpled onto the floor together, tangled and shaking.
“You. Have. Cancer?” My voice was barely a whisper and every single word got stuck in my throat. Coming out as it’s own sentence.
“Yeah. But, we don’t know how bad it is yet, love. Maybe it’s not that bad? We will find out.”
“It sounded bad, babe.” I whimpered as rivers ran from my eyes.
“It’ll be okay. Let’s not worry about it until we have to cross that bridge, okay?” His voice was shaking, a solitary tear slipped down his cheek.
“Sure. Okay.” I agreed. He kissed my lips softly. “I love you, Alyssa.”
“I love you too.” My words were garbled and thick.
We spent another hour tangled up like that, my tears didn’t stop, and we held each other tight but we didn’t utter another word.
Really, what else was there to say?
Writing my book this last month has been an emotional roller coaster but one that I know I need to go on. I'm ready to tell the whole story, leave nothing back. I want it all on the table. For Austyn when she's older, for y'all, but also for me.
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