By: Crissie Miller Kirby
As I watch my children sleep on this very, very early Saturday morning, I feel doubly blessed and guilty at the same time. Over the last two weeks, I have faced one of my worst fears, which has caused this blessed/guilty battle in my mind and heart.
Almost two weeks ago, my oldest son awoke with a pecan sized knot on his collarbone. A knot that had not been there the night before. Yep, this scared me. Off to the pediatrician we went. Then we visited the children’s hospital because being the crazy, psycho mom that I am, I wanted answers then and not later. Unfortunately, even though we received excellent care everywhere, by the end of the day, all we had was an appointment in 3 days with a pediatric surgeon. That wait was tough. What in the world was wrong with my baby?? Finally, we saw the surgeon and his response was “I want to do something about this within 24 hours.” WHOA!! Talk about being scared. I asked the tough question ~ what is the chance that this knot is something really bad. The response ~ a small chance. Talk about a moment that stopped me in my shoes… After a night that was punctuated with tears, late night phone calls with friends, and only 2 ½ hours of sleep, we arrived at the children’s hospital outpatient surgery registration desk at 8:30 the next morning.
My heart broke and the tears flowed freely when they took Pierce back to surgery around 11:30 am. My ex-husband and I anxiously waited and watched the clock until about 12:30 pm when the surgeon finally came out to tell us that surgery was over. In that little tiny conference room, the surgeon told us that surgery had gone well, he had removed one of Pierce’s lymph nodes, but that he just really had no idea what was going on. We would just have to wait on the results of the biopsy. Again, I cried. I was exhausted, I was scared, and I couldn’t get back to the recovery room fast enough. Thus, began the wait.
I functioned for the next 5 days on autopilot. I was like a zombie. I ate only because I knew I had to in order to take care of the boys. My house looked like a war zone. I was scared. I was terrified. While there was only a small chance that this swollen lymph node would be cancer, that tiny chance was enough to scare the hell out of me. Finally, at 5:30 pm on Wednesday afternoon, 6 days after surgery, the call came. When the nurse said that she had partial results, I felt like my stomach moved right up into my throat. I felt like I was on a roller coaster, cresting the top of the hill, and beginning that long descent. I think I literally held my breath as she said, “the results of his cancer panel are negative.” Praise God! I’ve heard, and used, the saying about feeling a weight being lifted off of me after one situation or another; however, this was the first time I have ever, truly and literally, felt my breathing change and feel lighter.
The long and the short of it is, we may never know, 100%, what caused Pierce’s lymph node to swell. And believe it or not, I am okay with that answer. As long as he does not have cancer. This is why I say I am blessed, but feeling guilty at the same time. I am so super blessed to have very healthy children. Sure, my kids have been sick. We are pretty close to Columbia ENT, Dr. Fred Garner, and his staff, and have dealt with tubes and adenoids numerous times over the last 5 ½ years. But, the possibility of pediatric cancer stopped me in my tracks. While I recognize that others are not as fortunate, I am, admittedly, guilty of taking my children’s health for granted. While I think about and pray for families who do not get the favorable results we did, until this happened, I honestly just didn’t get it. I just didn’t understand how life altering the threat of cancer could be. And not just pediatric cancer, any form of cancer. I never realized how stressful the possibility of a cancer diagnosis could be. And, for that, I feel guilty. I feel guilty for not praying hard enough, not being caring or kind enough to those going through it. I feel guilty for often just living in my own little world.
In closing, my message is never take a single day of good health for granted. Hold on to those you love and care about, especially your children. Consider what you might be able to do to make a difference to those who are battling your worst fears. I know that I am.