Pushed to a decision

Nothing clarifies the answer to a question you’ve been pondering like being told that your husband has cancer.

So now I have to asterisk the fuck out of that statement. My husband’s been having some abdominal issues for a couple months. He thought it was a parasite (it wasn’t.)

All along, somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought it was colon cancer. I’d been seriously thinking that was in his future for at least the past year.

I imagined having to call his mom and tell her the news, which is unusual because I don’t talk to her on the phone ever and she and I aren’t on the greatest terms since she blocked me on Facebook.

I told my husband sometime back in late last year that I wanted him to get a colonoscopy this year.

Sometimes I have very eerie intuition and it was dead on this time, right down to the awkward conversation with my mother-in-law, which I had today. As expected, she latched on to the cancer idea right away even though I was trying to downplay it.

His abdominal pain finally reached a point that he agreed to go to a freestanding ER yesterday. They did a CT scan, loaded him up with Dilaudid, and told us to go to the main trauma hospital downtown ASAP.

There, two different doctors told him he had colon cancer and they’d talk to him the next day about staging.

So they moved him to the oncology floor and now they’re dialing back just a bit. It’s not for sure cancer anymore and they’re going to do a colonoscopy and a biopsy first.

But between you and me? I know why they said it’s cancer. I looked at the radiologist’s report and understood what I read. I researched more and got further confirmation.

It could be something else like diverticulitis or ulcerative colitis, but it probably isn’t. They’re just trying to rule those out before making the diagnosis official.

Not with how the symptoms presented or what the radiologist report shows. I know the survival rate for colon cancer can be good, but the report also says it may have spread to surrounding lymph nodes.

And just like that, boom: I knew what I wanted to do. Yes to being a therapist. There’s nothing like a crisis to make you stop messing around with indecision.

I don’t have time anymore to waste with unstable careers like freelancing or adjunct teaching. I need something that has a hope of supporting myself. Being a therapist suits my health needs quite well because it won’t require being on my feet and probably won’t be super early mornings.

I’ve been kicking around the idea since undergrad as an alternative to teaching at the university level–it was always one or the other. I recently reread my old blogs from that time and that confirmed that I have wanted to do it for that long.

I actually really want to do it in itself, so it’s not some random whim. And my most-viewed posts are always the ones I write about mental health topics. I spent more than a year ghost-writing blog posts for therapists. This isn’t a second-choice career, it’s one that I want to do that is actually realistic for me.

If I have an MS flare up, I could likely still see patients.

I do have to get my handwriting to stop being so painful and awkward, though, so I can take client notes. That may require another round of occupational therapy.

Admittedly, this all still feels surreal about my husband and cancer. Although I knew this long ago and have in fact expected it was coming for at least 10 years, actually hearing it is a different story. And the fact that they keep pulling back from giving the full diagnosis makes everything feel more complicated.

None of my decision about my career is based on an assumption that he won’t be around. But it does make me realize that it was perhaps foolish and risky to live as though he always would be.

Someday I am sure I will break down and fall apart. Right now, I’m in crisis mode, which for me is very unemotional and focused on getting shit done. Sooner or later, that will catch up with me.

But for now, it made my next steps very clear. Get shit done, period, which is a very take-charge mode. Take care of myself and my immediate family. Prepare for my future. Whether it turns out he has cancer or not.

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