Waiting for biopsy results (been here before)

I’ll get results as soon as tomorrow or early next week.

Meantime I’ve been getting second opinions setup. It’s time consuming. So far I’ve got a meeting setup with Dana-Farber in Boston. After some back-and-forth we agreed to do this by phone (it was originally supposed to be in-person). This will happen once the results are in. I’m also working on Stanford but this requires a referral from Kaiser that is not likely to happen (even if I’m paying out of pocket!). I’ve got low odds on this one happening in any reasonable timeframe as appointments are booked a month out. I’m hoping to be well into second-line treatment by then. Finally I’m also setting up an appointment with UCSF. Yesterday I had to drop off cd’s of my PET/CT results at the UCSF hematology center (yes, like by hand – it still works that way). I was struck by the contrast of gorgeous SF bay area views from the Parnassus campus against the cold reality that most folks in the waiting room were getting bone marrow transplants (masks required just to enter the waiting room). I appreciate these views – don’t get me wrong – they are stunning. But it almost feels like this sort of activity should all be happening somewhere else. Somewhere subterranean. That would better reflect my levels of comfort with the whole thing. It’s like view magnificence is inversely related to the gravity of the situation, to how mentally trying it is. It feels like a balm or numbing agent, much as I appreciate it. There’s a fighter’s mentality that can easily get lost in too much beauty, certainty and comfort. That mentality is required in situations like this.

Imagine something that stressed you out: those envelopes for college admissions that came in the mail (fat or skinny), waiting for exam results, 360 performance reviews, or getting on the scale each morning if you’re trying to lose weight. Or choose your favorite form of suffering. Then raise that feeling literally to the level of life and death; like poor test results equals “you live” or “you die”. It requires some adjusting. I could never get comfortable with fate coming to me in an envelope or a phone call. Usually one has an indicator of how they did, or at least how well they prepared for that exam. Here though, preparation is not related (or at best is least loosely connected) to outcome.

But our fate isn’t sealed! It rarely is. I find it helpful to think that the plinko chips of circumstance sometimes get nudged (sometimes hard) in a certain direction. How one deals with the circumstance is of equal or greater importance than the circumstance itself. We play the hand we’re dealt. I’m bracing my mind for bad news (good news takes care of itself!). No point in wishful thinking here. I’m nervous. But it’s not as bad as I might have thought. I’ve had some time to acclimate to this new normal. I’ve already absorbed some hard blows so I know what it feels like. That doesn’t make it easy. But maybe it’ll sting less.