When I was in the hospital, I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I didn’t want to answer questions. I didn’t want my phone to ring.
If you break your leg, you would probably expect visitors and get well soon cards and balloons. If you have a baby, you would definitely expect “Congratulations!” cards and family members and a lot of “oohs” and “aahs.” I mean, babies are cute.
But I didn’t break my leg. And I didn’t have a baby. I have fucking cancer.
For the first week and a half, I didn’t technically know that I had cancer—non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma to be exact. The doctors suggested it, but I needed a biopsy, X-rays and bloodwork before an accurate diagnosis could be made. In reality, I knew it was cancer before the tests came back. Sometimes, you just know. Me? I was tipped off by the dozens of baseball-sized bruises from the round-the-clock IVs and needles that I got poked and prodded with. Thanks, invisible veins and nurses (you were all very nice, save for the poking), because battered housewives looked better than this.
Whether I liked it or not, I had to tell people immediately. I clearly wasn’t getting out of a hospital bed anytime soon. My parents and sister got terrifying phone calls, and then my closest guy friends in Los Angeles had to find out: two graciously helped tag team my car back to my apartment, and a third texted the morning after I admitted myself to the E.R. to see if I was still on for darts. I wasn’t. The fourth found out because seven days into a hospital stay, I really needed chocolate chip pancakes and a hug (listen, it’s no Four Seasons). Turns out neither cures cancer, but I was gifted with both, and damn it if it wasn’t the medicine I needed.
I didn’t want anyone else to know. Let’s be serious: I’m 27, and this is not supposed to happen. I had to call friends with this news? And family? And my job?! No. I wanted to find out about my far-away buddies’ relationships, jobs and latest dumb decisions, not talk about cancer. And here in L.A., how was I supposed to tell the people who I’d only known for a year? I should be hanging out with them at bars and playing kickball, not admitting that I was sick and needed help. I don’t even know how to ask for help. I’m a stubborn, independent brat—it’s not in my vocabulary.
Keep my friend Emily in your prayers. No one should ever have to deal with cancer, but if anyone can kick its ass, it’s this Jersey chick. So proud of you, Em - you can do this.