My husband, Don, told me I had cancer. Well, he confirmed it, really.
Two days earlier, on April 6, 1993, I'd found lumpy, hard growths on my neck. Since I was a physician, I examined myself right away. What could they mean?
Within a few minutes I knew—these were lymph nodes and they were full of cancer.
But I couldn't be certain—not until I'd had a lymph node removed and studied under a microscope. So after the surgery on April 8, I awoke to find Don sitting by my bed.
I blinked as I opened my eyes and tried to focus on his. He waited. Slowly my brain cleared. I searched Don's face and saw concern.
"Is it cancer?" I asked. He nodded and gently took my hand. I couldn't breathe. Cancer.
Am I going to die? I wondered. Will I leave behind this sweet man to rear our two toddlers on his own?
"It's Hodgkin's lymphoma," he added. Hodgkin's? I knew that Hodgkin's is treatable. The vice-grip around my chest loosened, and I could breathe again.
Treating cancer means chemotherapy or radiation, and maybe more surgery. And I knew how fatigued people going through cancer treatment became. I wouldn't be able to keep up with everything that needed to be done at home. In my medical practice, I'd seen marriages break up as a result of one mate having cancer. I wondered about my marriage. How will this affect us? Will Don trudge along with me on this path? Will he grow tired from the stress and caregiving, and leave me?1