I don’t really remember how it all started. I just started getting shooting pain in my leg, off and on. Then my knee started giving out from underneath me. When it didn’t go away a few weeks later, I told my Mom and she took me to the orthopedist (who was pretty much on speed dial since all 3 of us played a lot of sports lol). After the Orthopedist (not the nice Dr. that set my arm when I broke it at my 3rd grade sleepover but his associate) took some x-rays and examined me, he told us that everything was fine and it was probably growing pains. Well it didn’t get better, the pain got worse, so we went back. This time he was angry and said, “There is nothing wrong with your daughter, it’s in her head. Maybe she doesn’t want to go to school.”
My Mom was never one of those Mom’s that was gullible enough to think we didn’t lie our asses off sometimes, as all kids do from time to time. Fortunately for me, she ALWAYS believed us when it was something big. She ripped that arrogant prick a new asshole, all with a smile on her face. When we left, his jaw was on the floor in shock.
Then we took a trip to the local children’s hospital where they did a bone scan. Well the tumor lit up like a christmas tree. They said that it doesn’t always show up on an x-ray. They got us an appointment 2 days later at Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center in NYC. So we walk in and EVERYTHING says cancer this and cancer that. I’m 12 and NO ONE has mentioned cancer. We get in the elevator and I start yelling “Cancer? Fuckin cancer? How could you not tell me I have fuckin cancer!?! I knew something was wrong.” They just let me curse and yell until we got to our floor. Then my Mom hugged me and said, “Are you done? Sweetie we do not know if it’s cancer or not yet. Yes, we should have prepared you better but we’re freaked out too.” The doctors ran more tests and scheduled a biopsy for a few days later.
As I was only 3 months away from being a teenager, I had assured my Mom that she didn’t have to stay with me in the hospital. She packed a nightgown just in case. I never let the poor woman leave the hospital the whole week I was there lol.
The reason they had done everything so quickly was because the tests had indicated the cancer had spread. In fact instead of a simple biopsy, they ended up taking out the whole tumor and a large part of my tibia along with it. I couldn’t walk for 9 months. There was so little bone left and I was still growing. If I had put pressure on it, it would have shattered and that leg would’ve been shorter than the other. Considering I grew 4 more inches (I’m 5’8), that would’ve really sucked lol.
As they suspected, the tumor was malignant. But after they reran the tests, miraculously the other tumors seemed to have vanished. About 8 of some of the best doctors in the world all suddenly just stared at me, my parents and the test results. They could find no logical explanation for what they were seeing. My Mom just smiled and cried. My Dad cracked a joke and we all laughed.
I was released from the hospital on Christmas Eve. My family always says it was the best Christmas gift anyone ever got. I was given one round of chemotherapy and I never even lost my hair. While I healed, they continued to study me for as long as my parents and I allowed them. Then they sent my case file to the Mayo Clinic for the unexplained medical phenomena. I have a case number and everything.
If you ask me what I remember most? It was how much fun all of us kids had, racing up and down the halls in wheelchairs, with IV poles, etc. Up in the children’s ward, they let us get away with a LOT lol. After my surgery, they asked my parents if they could move me to a regular room as a 9 month old with Leukemia had just been admitted. My parents said of course. I also remember that I was ecstatic because I ended up being given double the presents!The adult loot (Estee Lauder, Lenox, Chanel, etc.) and the kids loot (Playstation, Videos, games, etc . What kid doesn’t just LOVE presents?!?!? LOL I wonder if corporate sponsors still do that today. That put a lot of smiles on a lot of sick kids’ faces.
Every year til I turned 18, my Dad and I would go back in to the city to attend the annual Holiday Party. I had to get checkups anyway, so we would bring presents and hang out for a few hours. It was always such a great time.
It might sound strange but ever since then I have never been afraid of death. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t actively seek it out or anything, I just don’t fear dying as some people do.