A SECOND CHANCE
by Nina Poznekoff
“It’s not cancer,” the doctor said, as I sat in his office shredding my Kleenex into minuscule bits of white fluff.
“What?” I responded, as though somehow I had replaced my fear with deafness. I heard him the first time, but the very depth of my soul needed to hear those words again. As I watched his mouth, almost as though he were speaking in slow motion, repeat those life-giving words, I could feel bursts of light permeate every molecule in my body. The very walls of his office screamed at me, “it’s not cancer.” The very core of my being screamed at me, “it’s not cancer.”
“Thank you,” I said. What do you say to someone who just told you that you were not going to die?
“Don’t thank me yet,” he said, “You’re still a very sick girl. Now, we have to..... And, then, we should make an appointment to... You’ll have to get blood work done to test ... I need to rule out... “
All I heard was “Yadda, yadda, yadda, it’s not cancer, blah, blah, blah, it’s not cancer, yak, yak, yak, it’s not cancer.” I could feel my eyes moisten with unshed tears, I could feel my body start to shake with unexpressed emotion, I could feel the hard shell around my heart begin to soften and was afraid that I would crumble. I just wanted to get out of there before I lost control.
If I had a mantra for my life, it would be, “Always be in control of your emotions”. Never let anyone see you hurt because no one will be there to care. Never let your guard down because everyone you have ever loved, except your son, has left you. You are rejected when you try your hardest to be perfect; think how much you will be rejected if you are weak and helpless. Never, never, never, let anyone see that you are weak. Never, never, never need anyone because no one will be there. These were the beliefs I had been taught as a child; these were the beliefs I had been taught as a young adult. Things had changed now for the better, but I was amazed at how quickly I reverted back to my old beliefs when a stressful situation arose. Would I never be free of the old hurts that I had spent my life trying to eradicate?
In some bizarre, twisted way I had to get out of the Doctor’s office in case he changed his mind. What if he flipped the pages of my file and found that he had not read the results correctly? I was not used to good news, I had set myself up to hear bad news, and I had to get out of there with the sound of “It’s not cancer” still ringing in my ears.
Stoically, I walked out of his office, made my appointment for the next phase of my healing, walked into the waiting room where my friend, Pat, was anxiously awaiting the news, whispered to her "It’s not cancer”, and watched the relief flood her face. She cared about me, she really cared. I saw it in her eyes and heard it in the rush of air escaping from her mouth, as if she had been holding her breath. Pat and I walked to the elevator and I was willing my legs to take step after step, my goal at that moment was to enter the elevator. I almost made it when I felt my legs start to give way under me. “It’s not cancer,” reverberated off of everything in that hospital hallway.
Alone in the elevator with my friend, I fell apart. As she hugged me, huge, gasping sobs tore out of me. I tried to hold back, but could not. As I sobbed for my reprieve, I sobbed for all those that didn’t get the good news I did. In one second their lives changed forever. In one second my life changed forever.
The grass is greener, the sky is bluer, people are dearer and life is to be lived moment to moment. I laugh more, cry less, hug more and worry less.
“It’s not cancer,” the doctor said...
Nina: I am a 51 year old, divorced, mother of one son and live in British Columbia, Canada. I am a new writer and the two pieces accepted by "Long Story Short" will be the first time my work is published. I've searched my whole life for my meaning, my purpose, my place of belonging and never found it. Once I started writing,
I knew I had finally come home to where I belonged. I knew I was now living my purpose in life, and this was my destiny. I give credit to God who inspires my words, and to my son, Steve, who unknowingly gives me so much material for my stories.