It was that time of year again—coming up on Dec 17, the day Mike and I separated in 2007. The following year on December 17, 2008, Mike lost his job. Both of these incidents seemed horrific but turned out to be much-needed events we couldn’t understand at the time. So this year, we looked at each other like What is it this time? Things were going really well for us. Mike was working hard to get our company off and running, and the girls were doing great in kindergarten. Tula was lucky enough to have made her first best friend at her school, was doing great academically, and enjoying playdates all the time.
I had been feeling well physically and upbeat emotionally. As my daughters were thriving in life and adjusting well to school, I was able to find more time for my own well-being. I started reading books on spirituality and started doing positive affirmations. This was a completely new concept for me, but it really resonated, and I'd been earnestly trying to rid myself of all negative and worrisome thoughts, especially relating to my health. I made a big sign for my bedroom that said, “I Am Perfect Health!” I meditated upon it, really believing it as I read it, and kept repeating it until I smiled. It seemed to be working. I had the urge to order up an OAT (Organic Acid Test) and stool analysis but wasn’t quite sure why. I had nothing physically wrong with me but I did it anyway. I started researching whether or not I could lower my immunosuppression that I had been on since my kidney transplant at age 13. Maybe I was feeling a bit anxious about my own health since my focus wasn’t on Tula anymore, I wasn’t sure.
That ominous December 17 came and went with nothing happening, although I had noticed a few weeks prior that one of my tonsils was enlarged. The first time I saw it in the mirror, my reaction was “cancer!” This was pretty typical, considering I tended to think anything semi-abnormal was cancer. I had been deathly afraid of cancer ever since I started my meds years ago, since this was a possible side effect. I went to a clinic to get the swollen tonsil checked out and the doctor said it was viral and not to worry. After a week, it was still there and I decided to see my primary doctor. He sent me to an ENT who put me on antibiotics, which did nothing. I was headed to see a fourth doctor right after Christmas. After this appointment I became worried when the doctor felt the tonsil and said it needed to be excised immediately. I was scheduled for surgery a few days later.
After waking up from the tonsillectomy, I could tell something was wrong by my family’s worried faces. I assumed everyone was over-worrying. Mike was there with me when the doctor entered the room. He said, “This is the worst part of my job. Your tonsil was cancerous.” Even though I had been dreading cancer my whole life, my first thought was, This is certainly not the time for this! Things were finally turning around in my life and Mike and I were both ready and deserving of the rewards of our hard work. There was supposed to be a light at the end of autism, wasn't there? I finally uttered, “No, it could have been a mistake, right?” He looked at me and said, “No, there was no mistake. We still don’t know what kind of cancer it is yet.”
I was in complete shock and felt absolutely powerless and alone. I held Mike’s hand and started crying—the hard cry from Dec 17, 2007, when I felt trapped in my life and couldn’t get out. There was nowhere to run. Would I die? The girls were so young to be going through something like this. I was wheeled out to the parking lot and I cried the whole way to the car. People were staring at me, asking if I was okay. The parking lot attendant asked as well, and I couldn’t think of anything to say. I couldn’t fake that everything was okay anymore. I was tired of terrible things happening to me. Then I thought about how the big moments in my life seemed to be so horrible in the moment, but there was so much good that came out of them. What good could possibly come out of this? How would our new business survive with me being sick? All of that work these past couple of months ridding myself of negative thoughts flew out the window. My greatest fears were manifesting—not my hopes and dreams.
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