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What It's Like to Be Told You Have Cancer—Kind Of - Source Washingtonian

Posted on May 16,2017
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The author with three of her grandkids. “How could I complain?” Photograph Courtesy of Ann Cochran.

Source Washingtonian

By Ann Cochran


WASHINGTON, DC. - I have cancer—kind of. After routine blood work for a physical, my internist winced and told me my white-blood-cell count was elevated enough for a hematology referral. “At least he’s not an oncologist,” I said. His expression beat his reply—that hematology and oncology go hand in hand.

Because frightening test results often turn out to be insignificant, this news didn’t worry me much. Still, I gave mortality some thought. Assessing my life and given my age, 64, death wouldn’t be tragic. I have a wonderful family and am “La La” to six grandchildren. Like everyone, I’ve had tough breaks. My mom died when I was 26, and I’ve been divorced twice. I finally hit the marriage jackpot with Chuck. We share faith, travel, and good health insurance. I’ve volunteered in the White House and at Walter Reed. How could I complain if my time was up? With belief in a supernatural adventure ahead, I felt surprisingly peaceful.

When Chuck and I arrived to meet with Dr. Paul Thambi, our anxiety spiked as we saw, in huge letters, AQUILINO CANCER CENTER. Were we sure I had cancer? Too late—I’d crossed over. Dr. Thambi reminded me of Anderson Cooper: stylish, smart, gentle sense of humor. He explained my test results, praising my hemoglobin and platelets. The lymphoma I had was “most likely” nonaggressive. Determining the type would take more blood work, PET and CAT scans, a bone-marrow biopsy. I called the radiology center, anxious about feeling claustrophobic in the machines, and wondered about taking Valium beforehand. “Bring your Valium and take it here if you like,” a staffer said. “But don’t worry. We’re not putting you in a coffin or anything—it’s open.” I laughed.

Source Washingtonian



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