Lump (10)

I have difficulty writing about joy.

She and I are sitting in the living room, not doing much.  She is reading, and I am playing a game on my Kindle.  All the adrenaline that has been sustaining us on a panic-based high for the last week and a half seems to be gone.  We aren’t nonchalant, really, just numb.  For my part I feel a bit like a steer in the slaughterhouse – smelling the blood, hearing the sounds of approaching death, but not quite able to figure out what to do about it.

The phone rings.  She answers.

The cavalry rides over the hill.

It’s the surgeon.  The surgeon has recommended that she be placed in a clinical trial.  The clinical trial will help cover our medical expenses.  The clinical trial will involve chemo before surgery.  If the clinical trial is successful and the lump shrinks, lumpectomy may be become a practical surgical solution again.

This, as they say, is good news.  The $100,000.00 shotgun aimed at our lives recedes.  I cry again.  She doesn’t – she knows that she still has to jump through hoops – but the news clearly relieves her and she gets busy looking up information on chemotherapy.  The amount of tension floating around in the air palpably lessens.

The phone rings.  She answers.

The cavalry rides over the hill.

It’s L.  L&N have heard about our financial difficulties and are willing to help out.  L&N are willing to help out BIG TIME, in amounts that will cover her surgery if needed.

I would never have expected that from them.  It isn’t as though we are the closest of friends.  Cordial, yes.  Make no mistake, they are good people.  But still, I am floored, humbled by their generosity.  For a moment after she tells me the news I cannot speak, my throat constricts and I can’t make any sound come out.  Tears well up in my eyes, because suddenly our problems have shifted from how to deal with the outrageous expense of medical care to more practical and approachable issues – scheduling and treatment plans and how to deal with hair loss and when to schedule a trip for her to go to see her family.  Once again I am crying and this time she has tears in her eyes as well.  The generosity and selflessness we have just experienced is breathtaking, inspiring, glorious.  It changes everything, both on the issue of our cancer treatment and in my personal view of humanity.  That people can call out of the blue with an offer of such help – people we don’t even know that well (have we ever even been out to dinner with them?) touches my heart and mind in ways that few single events ever have in my life.  The world simply does not look the same.

The phone rings.  She answers.

The cavalry rides over the hill.

It’s D. again.  D. knows someone who can help us sort out our insurance problems.  It turns out over the next couple of days that D knows two someones who can help with our insurance problems.  And once again the terror of helplessness in the face of disaster recedes and hope floods into our lives.  There is a way for us to get insurance after all.  There is a way for us to get covered under Medi-Cal.  Not just her, I can get covered too, which means that while we are dealing with her medical emergency there is a safety net for me dealing with my health concerns as well.  I had resigned myself to putting all my health care on hold and hoping nothing broke while she was undergoing treatment.  Now that won’t be necessary.  Another burden seemingly lifted, another worry receding –  although by this time so much of the stress and fear has been removed by the last two phone calls that I don’t actually cry.

Such amazing outpourings of concern.  So many offers of help.  I have not even begun to cover some of the additional outpourings of good will, care, support, friendship, compassion, love – how can I recount them all?  Our pastor, C., called us from Maryland to offer best wishes and whatever aid might be given*.  Friends in Seattle have offered help setting up a GoFundMe site.  People we thought we hardly knew have sent us information on cancer organizations that might help us cover the bills .  Our friends and landlords have offered support and understanding.

This is just the beginning.  We are not alone.  We are not forgotten.  We will not be fighting this battle without the aid of friends and loved ones and even strangers who unite with us out of a common desire to see Lump defeated, not just in my wife but always and forever for everyone.  We receive guidance from those who are also battling Lump, or who have battled Lump in the past, either from personal experience or as a vocation.  Standing behind us, standing with us, going before us, and walking paths similar to ours.

Friends, all friends.  All allies.  All supporters and comforters and cheerleaders and bodyguards.  United in our defense.

The cavalry.


*Yes, we’re both atheists.  Yes, we still have a pastor.  Good pastors are understanding that way.

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