When I was fifteen I fell down a ravine on the side of a mountain and broke my arm. It was my left humerus bone and I had to hike three miles back down the mountain before an hour and a half drive to a hospital. When I got my x-rays done, the radiologist wasn’t 100% on board the whole “yes my humerus is broken” ship. It was the only time I cried. I had known it was broken in two for the past six hours, she did not.
After the excruciatingly painful exam and a “oh, yes, it looks like you have broken your arm,” the emergency room doctor called my parents out of the room to have a little chat about my x-ray. I would later find out that there was something wrong with my humerus bone. It was thinner than it should be and something was slowly eating it away. Eventually someone could have bumped into me and it would’ve snapped, my brother could’ve playfully punched me in the arm and broken it, or I could’ve ran into a wall (a common occurrence) and it might have broken in two.
As it turns out, I had a bone cyst. Something doctors wouldn’t know for sure until after I had surgery. My surgery was longer than expected. They tested the biopsy twice. Of course, I was out so no extra time passed for me, but my family waited impatiently for the doctor to come out. I came out on the other side with a titanium rod inside my arm, mixed with a little cadaver bone. It healed fully and completely and I don’t set off any alarms when I go through airport security (thank God).
What my parents, doctors, and nurses failed to tell me was that the biopsy also tested for cancer. I could have had cancer and no one told me. I could have had a bone cyst or I could have had cancer. In retrospect, I understand why no one told me. I was prone to anxiety attacks and the stress of not knowing if I had cancer would have made for many a sleepless night. But what if I did have cancer? What if the biopsy showed cancerous cells eating away at my humerus? What then? In fact, the biopsy took longer than expected because the doctors were double checking the results. While I was under anesthesia, my parents were waiting with baited breath to find out if I had cancer. The extra hour and a half they spent looking at the cells was an extra hour and a half of worry for my family. Worry that I didn’t even know existed.
That hour and a half was a cancer scare I didn’t know about. I had no fear going into surgery. As far as I knew, they wanted to look more at the bone cyst. I was getting a titanium rod inserted into my left humerus bone. I’d have wicked awesome scars. I wasn’t nervous or anxious. I didn’t know anything else could be wrong with me. I didn’t know I could have cancer.
What scares me is what if I would have had cancer? What kind of shock would I have been in?
I didn’t know I had a cancer scare and that scares me.