Can I tell you a story?
Now that it's in the past tense, I think I can get away with telling it, without getting in too much trouble.
Several years ago my sister went to the doctor thinking she had appendicitis.
She left the doctor's office with these words ringing in her ears, "you have a tumor growing on your ovary. We won't know for sure until next week what we're dealing with, but you may only have two months left to live."
My sister was honest to goodness okay with the thought of dying.
I was not okay with it.
Not even a little bit.
The following week they removed the tumor, which was the size of a basketball, and after biopsies were sent clear back to Boston for testing, they came back and told my sister she had borderline cancer. The tumor had been filled with cancer, but as far as they could tell it hadn't spread outside of the tumor. Their course of action was just simply to do monthly exams and blood work.
Had the tumor gone too much longer, it would have burst and sent cancer throughout her entire body.
A few years later, in a routine follow-up appointment, the doctor discovered another tumor: this one the size of a baseball.
The surgeon who removed the tumor came out to talk to me in the waiting room after he finished the surgery.
Knowing what the last tumor had looked like, the surgeon had called in another specialist to assist with the surgery. He wasn't taking any chances with Becca's life.
"We debated for 20 minutes on what to do. We were this close to doing a complete hysterectomy. But in the end I knew that if she were my daughter I would want her to have a chance to have children. I left one third of one ovary, and when she's ready to have kids, I will do everything I can to help her."
Becca has never had another problem until recently.
She had some concerns and called to make an appointment with her doctor.
He didn't have openings for several weeks, and so Bec made an appointment with his nurse practitioner.
After an exam and a cervical biopsy the nurse practitioner said to Becca, "you're either fine or you have cervical cancer. We won't know until we get the lab results back. I will call you as soon as I have the results."
Becca called me and said, "do you want the good news or the bad news?"
Becca was 100% certain she didn't have cancer. (Remember that she's the girl who had no problem with the possibility of death.)
I told her I wanted the results before I could be certain.
Every day I asked Becca, "have you heard back about your test results?"
And every day her answer was no.
FOR THREE WEEKS.
Who does that?
Who tells their patient that they possibly have cervical cancer and then never calls them back?
Bec called the office.
She left messages.
She asked for the nurses to call her back.
She left a message for the office manager.
She left a message for the nurse practitioner.
THREE WEEKS and they didn't call her back.
Becca told me more than once, "if I were dying I'm sure they would have called. I'm fine. Don't worry."
I don't care if you're as healthy as a horse.
If someone tells you that cancer is a possibility, especially when you've already been through this twice, they better darn well call you back...no matter what.
Finally, Becca did hear back from a nurse...not the nurse practitioner.
She was sitting in my office when she got the call.
I had been coaching her on what to say.
She didn't say any of it.
Instead she thanked the nurse for calling her back and hung up the phone.
Before I could say anything Becca said, "that nurse doesn't care one way or the other about what I think Noelle; it wouldn't have done any good to say anything to her."
"Oh, and I don't have cancer. My tests came back clean."
I'm not sure if you can tell, but I still get a tad fired up just thinking about it.
The moral of this story?
I should be more like my sister. She's nicer than I am.