At 9:00 am on the morning after my MRI, I walked into the neurologist’s office with my husband, and my dad was already seated with the doctor, teary eyed and red in the face because he knew the diagnosis. The doctor spoke slowly and clearly. “Its not migraines, you have a Meningioma, a tumor in the lining of your brain. And a very impressive one at that – it’s larger than a baseball!”
I felt my stomach twisting and turning, and my head got cloudy. I didn’t say much – I mostly just disappeared in and out of my body while the room circled around and around. I still have a hard time remembering anything else the doctor said that day – I mostly just sat there thanking God that my dad and husband were there so I could disappear in my thoughts.
I do remember one thing the doctor said because it stung me to the core – “I think you should go home and process all this information, and take time to mourn your old life.” My dad impatiently jumped in, defensively, fatherly – what do you mean “mourn” her old life!!! But the doctor looked at me and I instantly knew what he meant because I had already begun to mourn my old, perfectly wonderful life as I sat there in complete shock.
I was imagining all the ways my life would never be the same, thinking fondly back on good times, happy times, innocent times – you know, the innocent, naïve moments of living like you’ll live forever. It's one of the things I’ve missed the most. It's easier to live life as a passerby, enjoying one moment and briefly planning for the next one, always assuming there will be a next one.
But I understood what the doctor was saying in a way that my dad and husband couldn’t – to this day I talk about life as pre-tumor or post-tumor, pre-diagnosis or post-diagnosis.
Pre tumor life was great – I was blessed with a wonderful life so far, and
I was blessed with the naivety of thinking it would last forever.
Post tumor life is heavy on the soul. It's challenging to find a healthy balance between "stopping to smell the roses" and a doomsday mentality. But, post tumor life can be great too. In fact, in some ways it is even better. As cliche as it may sound, I now breathe my breaths a little deeper, and look at each minute like it really could be one of my last. I have the blessing and curse of a heightened awareness that my life is fragile, and it probably won’t last as long as I once thought. But, I have no doubt that the years I do live will be better because my tumor has made me not just love my life, but love being alive to live it.