I guess it’s one of those conversations you can’t ever really prepare for.
You may sense bad news is coming. It may not be a total surprise.
They may even warm you up by saying something like: “This isn’t curing the cancer it’s just giving you more time.” But when your wife presses for clarification and you hear for the first time that you have one, maybe two years left, it kinda feels like an asteroid crashing into your world.
Tracey started crying. I started to go in to management mode.
As well as the doctor, there was a resident or an intern or whatever his title is in the room and he was just standing there, not knowing what to do.
But I seemed to know what to do.
My role has always been to make everyone feel comfortable in whatever situation. So that was a funny part about it. This asteroid has exploded. Tracey’s crying. That one guy is just standing there, all uncomfortable, and I start making jokes.
The same thing happened the first time they told me I had cancer. I remember cracking a few jokes. But that time I actually felt a little lucky because the only reason they found the cancer in my kidney was because I had appendicitis.
But I remember, there was a resident or intern or whoever in the room the first time too, and she couldn’t look me in the eye. I always wanted to go and find that intern and tell her that some of the things she’s going to learn about being a doctor are purely practical and process driven. But some other things she has to learn are about dignity and emotion and well, just looking people in the eye.
Because when they didn’t, they forced me to feel sad before I had a chance to even process why I should be sad. I have been told I have terminal renal cell carcinoma, the cancer has metastasized I have 15 lesions in my lungs. I may have been told I have a year or two to live...but it's up to me to determine what the real timeline is. I'm now starting to process this...