A Beautiful Disaster – Part 2
by Rachel Minion
and Jon Minion
Fast forward to a few weeks after my appendix burst. I’m sitting in the surgeon’s waiting room. It’s a Friday afternoon and I’m excited for the weekend.
Things were on the up and up. I had a successful surgery to remove my encapsulated appendix. Summer in Chicago is incredible. We found a rooftop bar where we can hear live acoustic music while watching the sun go down. On top of that, I accepted a new position and turned in my resignation letter. It’s time for a celebration, or so I thought.
I’m a lucky guy. Rachel was amazing through surgery and is recovering great. And my mom was able to drive over from Iowa and spend a few days with us while Rachel was in the hospital. We are very fortunate and thankful for this time she was able to give us. It allowed me the opportunity to take care of some things at the house while she stayed with Rachel. We had the monsters taken care of. I don’t know how we would have done it without her. Thanks mom!
Yep, come alone. We asked multiple times. Rachel was confident in driving down to the hospital and handling the follow-up, so I went to work thinking it was just another day.
I was sitting in this lovely brick building (with no cell service) and the Doctor is running about an hour and a half late. It’s no big deal because I turned in my resignation letter the day before and I can make up my hours this weekend.
“They’re running late”, she texts. No worries. I’ll get out of the office as soon as I can and take care of the monsters. Then we can celebrate cause it’s Friday and this appendix problem will be behind us soon.
It’s finally my turn to head to the back. Normally the Nurses are joking around with me, but today was different. They sent the Doctor and a different Nurse into the room to see me.
Without missing a beat, the Doctor says, “SO YOU HAVE CANCER.”
I guess right now I should give you a little backstory on my personality. I am a strong, resilient woman who has the mouth of a sailor mixed with the snark of the character Darlene Connor from Roseanne.
My first response was short, blunt and to the point. “No. That isn’t possible. You can tell the guys from Candid Camera that this isn’t funny. I get it. I quit my job 24 hours ago. They thought this would be funny and it’s not. So bring in the cameras and let’s get this appointment over with.”
The Doctor and Nurse looked at each other, then looked back at me. The Doctor said, “I’ll give you a minute.”
A few more minutes of sitting and staring at each other and they could see the words couldn’t come out. Most people would ask for next steps or prognosis. I wasn’t there yet. I was still in denial. The questions were circling around my head like some horrible hallucination.
The Doctor senses that it’s the time to discuss next steps and the next surgery I need. The tumor was small and spotted on a biopsy only a week after my first surgery so we needed one more surgery to make sure that they got clear margins. They never would have found this had my appendix not burst. It most likely would have spread to colon cancer. That is the bright side.
The not-so-bright side started taking over all the rest of my thoughts:
- HOW AM I GOING TO DO THIS?
- How can I have cancer in my mid-thirties?
- I just got married, am I going to live long enough to have children?
- I can’t leave my family just yet.
- I don’t want to die.
- Is this something I can tell my support network?
- How am I going to get through any phone call from my support network after I tell them I have cancer?
- Have I even lived yet? How can I start thinking about dying?
- I’m a terrible patient, do I really want to do another surgery?
- What if I need chemo or radiation?
How can I just make this death spiral of horrible questions stop?
You can imagine. The minute you hear the C-word, life changes and it changes immediately. The things that seemed so incredibly important 5 minutes before were now insignificant.
I can’t imagine how she felt. Alone. Confused. Scared. I had no idea this was happening. This was supposed to be a routine follow-up! I should have been there with her. I should not have listened to the doctors when they said she can come alone. She should not be alone.
As you can see, the last thing a person diagnosed with cancer even thinks about is basic needs. We all need food, laundry, childcare, dog care, transportation. Thinking about how to handle any of these basic needs is overwhelming. Thinking about how to tell your support network and project manage incoming support is even more overwhelming.
This is why we created Beyond Basic Needs. It needs to be stupid simple to ask for help and even easier to receive support from your network. We connect you to the platform that makes it easy to manage and get help for basic services including food delivery, cleaning services, transportation services and other basic needs at no charge to the individual. Our volunteer network spreads awareness and helps those in need utilize the technology to organize support.
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