Friday, June 14 2024 - 10:23 AM
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A Work in Progress

I was at home sitting on my bed watching a show on Hulu when I got a phone call from a 323 number. I knew those three digits well. It was my hospital. My doctor was calling me a month after I had back surgery.

The Back Story

Earlier in the summer, I had a 12-hour surgery to remove a benign tumor from my lower spine next to my L1. Since it was a major surgery, the doctors had me stay at the hospital a week post-op. The gruesome experience took a lot out of me, and I spent most of my nights in tears at the hospital. I blamed God and felt myself losing the relationship I had with Him.

Once released, my new normal consisted of bed rest and using a cane and a back brace to walk while I still had two tubes inside my back. It took about a month until I had enough strength to walk on my own without the support of a cane, and the tubes were removed. I remember thinking, I’m finally getting my everyday life back. So I started preparing to return to my university for the fall quarter. I had everything set: a room, classes, and a job waiting for me. But things didn’t go as planned. Instead, they took a turn for the worse.

On that call, my doctor asked if anyone had talked to me about the surgery results. I told her that I hadn’t been informed of anything yet and that the only thing I knew about the surgery was that it went well.

She paused, then said, “You have cancer. But, unfortunately, we were unable to get all the fragments.”

I was shocked and about to tear up, but the doctor kept piling heavy information on me. While she talked, all my brain could rack up was superficial things like how I wouldn’t be able to see my friends and that I might go bald. I couldn’t go bald, and I needed my friends. The next step was figuring out treatment, meaning I had to stay put and miss school. Denial was a river, and I was in it.

I waited impatiently for the next call from my doctor.

Waiting and Treatments

The waiting hurt. Waiting made me most anxious because it felt like I had no plan or idea of what I would have to go through. I felt scared and alone. All my friends were at school doing normal college things. I didn’t think it seemed fair that I had to go through this. The doctors were not helping with the time they were taking. It only made me feel worse. Finally, a month after the first call, my doctor told me the radiation treatments were scheduled. I would have the first one the following Monday at 8 AM. When it got to Monday, I went to the appointment, and it was surreal. It made me realize that this was serious and that I had cancer. I broke down in the car and cried. The beginning had started.

The treatments and my trips to the clinic lasted six weeks. It was a rough experience. I was constantly throwing up, having muscle spasms, and taking multiple ER trips. The nurses started to recognize and sympathize with me. It seemed like a never-ending cycle. I never had a break. I lost about 20 pounds and ended up being underweight. Things kept going downhill for me, and I saw no light at the end of the tunnel.

My Relationships with God

At that point, my relationship with God could be defined as nonexistent, and I blamed Him for everything. I could not see the bright side. I felt like a shell of the person I once was, and I needed to put up a front so that others wouldn’t worry.

Eventually, things got better; I finished up with my treatments, and the ER trips stopped. My symptoms slowed down, and I could keep more food down. I had new scans done, and my doctors told me I could return to my university. Even if things are not the same and my health is still not at its best, it is much better than two months ago. I started returning to church and taking little steps to renew my relationship with God. I wouldn’t say it’s a strong one yet; I wouldn’t consider it a relationship again. Let’s say it’s all just a work in progress.

Cesia Nunez writes from the Pacific Northwest.

If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy Cancer on My Resume | Christ and Cancer 

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About Cesia Nunez

Cesia Nunez

writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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