For the past 16 days I have been fine. I haven't worried much about Elaine calling with news on my genetics testing. After all, she said it would be "two to four weeks" before I got the results back. I've been around the medical world long enough to know that rarely (if ever) does anything come back earlier than expected so for the first two weeks after April 27, I successfully put the issue out of my mind. I went about my business as usual, which lately, has been so wonderfully unusual. I've worked hard on the book launch and on my job search, somehow finding time for the job that actually pays me. I've watched Teddy play baseball and lacrosse and taken Annabel to gymnastics. I got a precious two nights away for Mother's Day with my mom, aunt Helen, and cousin Kirsten. And none of it has been ruined by the dread of hearing whether my TP53 gene, or any other gene for that matter, held a mutation that led me to get breast cancer at such an unusually young age.
Last night my mom thoughtfully acknowledged how hard it must be to wait. But I had to admit that it wasn't that hard because it really hadn't been. Until this afternoon.
This afternoon, something hit me and whatever-it-was almost brought me to tears while I tried to work on a project that really needed my attention. I think it started with the realization that it could be any day now that "Unknown" or "Blocked" rings me with the news. As I tried to collect myself and get back to work, I ended up taking a short break to figure out what the heck I was feeling and why all of a sudden I was feeling it.
In those minutes of deep thought--the kind that makes everything else in the world fade to the background--I realized something that I had never comprehended so deeply before. Ironically, it had to do with hope--a concept I pretend I know a lot about. I realized that balancing hope and acceptance is an extremely difficult thing to do.
The truth is that today, I panicked. I panicked that I wasn't ready; that if the news came today that I had a genetic mutation that predisposed me (and perhaps even my children) to cancer, that I wouldn't be prepared. Because I'm not prepared. And I really like to be.
That's one thing that's so hard about hope. If you hope for something, it's hard to also prepare yourself to accept the reality of the outcome-gone-bad. So while I have been hiding from that reality or hoping that the news comes back "good," I haven't at all prepared myself for the reality that today or tomorrow or the next day, my life could take another violent turn (the kind that gives you serious whiplash). Then again, how does one prepare for those types of turns? How do we brace ourselves for bad news while hoping for the best? It's not an easy thing to do, and in the midst of all of the blessings and excitement swirling in my life right now, I panicked today at the thought that I have completely failed to do it.