It begins with waiting… hoping that it’s good news or no news. Staring at the four walls of an empty doctors clinic with chairs circled around a table filled with old magazines. Biting your nails until there’s nothing left, and bopping your leg up and down to cure the anxious feeling in your stomach, but only making it worse instead. Waiting for your name to be called, to get this over with but wanting to wait a little longer because you know you will never be ready.
“Nicole?” She says, but doesn’t know.
Standing up from the chair with low self esteem, and taking a deep breath to follow. My mum falls behind me, walking into the cold room. The silence is so loud, tension couldn’t even break it. I’m going to look at your chest x-ray, she stammers and I nod.
I’m fine. I’m 20 years old. She looks at the x-ray and then looks at me, she’s unsure. I’m going to pass you onto a Doctor, who can explain your x-ray to you. A million questions rush through my head: why? why? and why? No one could say a word, sick to the stomach. I’m fine. We walk into yet another cold room, a sympathetic doctor sitting in the chair; a look in her eyes, the look saying she doesn’t want to be the one to break this to me. The first 30 seconds are just silence, as she looks at me, looking at the x-ray. She can’t believe her eyes. I’m not fine, am I? I’m holding back the tears.
Nicole, her whole body is facing me, her hands rest in her lap. I’ve had a look at your x-ray. She gulps and takes a deep breath in. There seems to be a mass in your chest, and it looks like lymphoma. Lymphoma? What is she talking about? Do you know what lymphoma is? Her eyes lock on mine, the colour in her eyes have glossed over with water and the cheeks on her face have been tinted red, she keeps it together but barely. I don’t know what lymphoma is, but the way you’re looking at me suggests it’s cancer… I’m right, aren’t I?While my brain tries to process this new information, the tears come rolling down my face. It’s cancer. It’s cancer. It’s cancer; the words playing on repeat. Just like an unfocused image, the entire moment becomes a blur and I can hardly hear what she’s saying. I tell her yes, I know what lymphoma is by the way you’re looking at me. My brain feels like its driving at 200mph and everything around me feels non-existent, my mum steps out of the room to make a phone call to my dad.
I’m going to send you to EAU at the hospital, and I’m about to say some scary words on the phone to them. Would you prefer to step out? I don’t think I answered, I walked back into the waiting room and I burst into even more tears, luckily no one was in there, though I wouldn’t care if there was. My mum holds me tight and tells me were going to get through this, and I can barely breathe at this point. The doctor is finished on the phone, and I wipe my tears and smear my make up across my face.
I’m going to send you now. I’ve written you a sick note for two weeks, and please expect these weeks to be a blur because it’s going to be difficult but you will get through this.
We leave the clinic and my mum keeps me locked away from the people in the waiting room, keeping me covered like a celebrity from the paparazzi.
We sit in the car and I cry…
I made a phone call to my boyfriend. And I texted my sister on the way to the hospital. That’s when the hardcore chaos began…