Hey, so, umm… I have cancer.

Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma. I found out Saturday morning that the biopsy I had earlier this week, with a projected 5-15% malignancy rate, has come back as cancer.

It’s true what they say, you know. At least for me, anyways. The moment the doctor said that C word, I started to get tunnel vision. I didn’t hear some of what he said. I couldn’t.

Because when my phone rang, I ducked between stalls at our local farmer’s market, shielding the phone from the relentless wind that seemed to be coming from every direction yesterday morning, plugging my other ear with my finger to shut out the fiddlers who I had been truly enjoying listening to up until that moment, and shutting my eyes because I kept glimpsing the colors, the goodies, the familiarity of this situation we’d found ourselves in every single Saturday this summer – all to try and concentrate on what my doctor was saying and I heard, “You have cancer.”

My son was with my husband, attempting to find his favorite cookie stall and I heard, “Surgery of the nodule could also encompass the entire thyroid and turn into a thyroidectomy.”

My daughter was with my dad, practicing her walking and mastering the curbs all around her and I heard, “Radioactive iodine therapy.”

My mom was guessing the lyrics on a chalkboard to win a free tomato. It was “Soul Kitchen” by The Doors this week and I heard, “I’m referring you over to a really great ENT team who will take it from here.”

I have cancer.

My family and I spent the day doing what we always do, every Saturday: Being together. We played outside when we got home, did some crossword puzzles as a team, made dinner together, but this Saturday contained more tears than I can ever remember.

I have cancer.

Close to the kid’s bedtime I excused myself because I needed a minute. I sat on my bed and let the tears fall. The clouds outside of my bedroom windows were this beautiful grey-purple-orange we get at this time of year, because the sun is setting so early, and the trees are alight with their autumn colors. I cried hard. I shook with sadness, fear and anger.

I have cancer.

The feelings that started to wash over me yesterday in waves, and continue into every waking moment since that phone call, are so foreign to me. Part of me wants to squeeze the people closest to me so hard and never let them go. And another part of me wants to push everyone and everything away. Part of me feels utterly alone. And another part of me feels invaded by an uninvited, unwelcome guest.

There is no reckoning, or bargaining, or logic that explains it, either: Why me? Why now? Why cancer? What did I do to deserve this? Because is there really ever a good time to have cancer? How many people in your life do you know that have had/currently have cancer? I will guess it is probably more than a handful. And if you thought about it, there is no one thing binding them all together as a population subset, aside from the fact that they had/have cancer. And now I am one of them.

Please don’t tell me “Everything is going to be fine.” “It will all be ok.” You don’t know that. And it feels like you ‘re only saying that because you don’t know what else to say, and it makes you less uncomfortable. It’s not helpful. Because you don’t know that. No one does. Let’s not be naïve.

I have cancer.

I will say it again, for the people in the back: There is no good time to have cancer.

This is going to be a wild ride. I am completely and utterly terrified. But life is too short to handle it all on my own. So I’m sharing it with you, my friends, in the hopes that perhaps a hug the next time we see each other might be both the medicine and the ice breaker we both need in the moment.

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