At the Mayo Clinic, the doctors advise that their cancer patients touch base with a social worker who works close with the doctors. The Social Worker is there to provide the patient with different resources to help deal with cancer. Everything from support groups to financial aid to one-on-one counselling.
Dr. N made an appointment for me with one of the social workers at Mayo. I went to the appointment with my mother, which I usually don’t like to do because talking about my cancer makes her upset and cry. She came in anyway, and sat quietly with a Kleenex in her hand while I spoke with a woman I’ll call Diane.
Diane first gave me some information on nutrition and took a basic financial statement to see if I would be eligible for some sort of financial aid. She asked me if I needed any information on support groups; I told her I didn’t. I felt strong and positive that I was going to beat the cancer.
She looked at me a little sideways. She asked, “Do you know what your diagnoses is?”
I said, “Yes. I’ve discussed it all with Dr. N.”
Diane: “What did Dr. N tell you?”
Me: “He said that I have Stage IV Breast Cancer and that I have a three in a thousand chance to be cured.”
Diane: “And, what if you are not one of the three?”
Diane: “What if you are not cured? Are you emotionally prepared for this?”
I was genuinely confused when she asked me this. The thought of not being cured had never occured to me. I have been from the very beginning completely sold on the idea that I am going to beat cancer. I don’t know when it’s going to happen, I don’t know how it’s going to happen. I just know it. I think it’s very dangerous for her to try to plant a seed in my mind to the contrary.
I know what she’s trying to do. She’s trying to prepare me for what, statistically, is my probable outcome. But, she doesn’t know me. I AM NOT A STATISTIC!! I have blocked all of that negative shit out of my mind.
My mother sobbed. This made me mad.
“Look Diane. I’m going to be one of the three and that’s it. I think we’re ready to leave.” I stood up and helped my mother to her feet.
“Karen, I have some information on meditation if you’d like….”
“I already know how to meditate and I do it every day.” I snapped at her a little strongly, I know. But I was pissed and I just wanted to get out of her office.
I helped my mom to the car. She was trying not to cry but I could tell that this meeting had unnerved her. We talked about it on the way home and we both ended up getting angry about the whole thing. By the time we arrived home we had concluded that Diane had no idea what she was talking about and that I was going to go on as planned. I was going to be one of the three in a thousand. I was going to beat cancer.