April 02, 2023

Crying After Good News


Weight of the Wait
I got good news from my doctor last week. My tumors are stable. Amen. They didn’t shrink, which sucks, but I wasn’t exactly expecting them to either. So it wasn’t spectacular news, it wasn’t horrible news. It was good news.

So why later that night, laying in my bed at Miracle House, did I bust out crying, sobbing like a baby. Yes, I was watching the cheesy movie I Am Sam where hottie Sean Penn plays a developmentally disabled Starbucks worker. And, I’m sure I had a tinge of PMS too. But it was a lot more than that. It was the weight of the wait flooding out of me.

Mack Truck
I’ve come up with some pretty great ways to tame my worry while waiting for check ups. But regardless of how adept I’ve become at distraction, curbing anxiety, and processing reality, there will always be a nugget of tightly wound fear that I store away in some inaccessible reach of my heart while I count down the days on my calendar. It doesn’t matter if the news from my doc is simply fantastic – waiting wears me down.

The night after an appointment I feel run over by a Mac truck. It is such a contrast to the world around me. Family and friends might feel the relief that my wait is over; they have news, be it great, just okay, or even bad. But for me, this afterwords time is when my real sadness crawls out of the fox hole and I have one of those good sulky cries that sometimes doesn’t even make a sound.

How do you respond to going to the doctor? What happens to you after the wait is over? When your news is good, are you able to start the celebration right away or do you have some lag time? This post was written with Abby in mind, whose been waiting the hard wait for her doctor’s appointment today. Thinking of you my dear!

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  1. Kate Says:
    April 2nd, 2009 at 5:36 AM

    I think that no matter how adept we become at controlling the anxiety there is always a sense of relief as well as release when things come back negative. CONGRATS on the node news!!!

  2. Daria Says:
    April 2nd, 2009 at 7:28 AM

    Yes congrats on the stable news. I pray for more good news for you.

    When I visit my oncologist, I’m always cautiously optimistic. I am always questioning what has been said and then I repackage it for my family and friends. Some how I always look for or expect the worst in the news.

    Celebrations are few and far between because I know how things can change … I’m talking about my situation.

  3. Garnet Says:
    April 2nd, 2009 at 8:00 AM

    Aww shucks. Thanks so much! Once again your words keep me company.

    Yesterday I did get mostly good news from my doc visit, although he did not present it that way. The bad news is bad but I’m not dwelling on it because it doesn’t really change anything. Still proceeding with the same treatment, same options, and my liver is still functioning normally and the main tumor did not grow, nor did it shrink. I’ve gotten used to the “no shrinking or growing” news and while stability is certainly something to be thankful for, it’s easy to underestimate its importance if you’re not so involved with cancer as we and our partners are. Lots of my readers and family and friends are apologizing to me, offering me their sympathy as they only focus on the bad news. How is that helpful in any way, I wonder? Yeah Yeah i know they are only trying to help, trying to offer their kind words the best way they know how. But the select few people who really truly know me and understand what I need to get through this are congratulating me on all the GOOD news while gently recognizing the bad. The good news is GREAT if you think about it really hard. I just need to sweep my fears of mortality under the rug as I take these steps forward into my renewed sense of positivity and strength and I think I can fight this sonofabitch with everything I’ve got! It’s just up to me to keep my body strong enough to manage the chemo and its delightful side effects.

    It’s still so hard to not think about the bad news.

    I’m just so damn glad the wait is finally over. Of course, we’ve already set our next tentatitve date to return in three months for another scan and looksee but at this point I’m not expecting much change by then. I hope I’ve learned something from this and the previous long and frantic wait times so that I don’t throw myself into the emotional downward spiral as the last two weeks creep slowly by until the upcoming appointment! Probably not but hey, I’m just taking it one day and one step at a time. That’s all we can really do, right?

    The only way out is through. That’s my new motto.

  4. Luke Says:
    April 2nd, 2009 at 1:32 PM




    “I did not know what to say to him. I felt awkward and blundering. I did not know how I could reach him, where I could overtake him and go on hand in hand with him once more.”

    “It is such a secret place, the land of tears.”

    ~Antoine de Saint Exupéry~
    The Little Prince

  5. Sara Says:
    April 2nd, 2009 at 10:09 PM

    I get anxious before every appointment… As absolutely hard as I try, I always think there will be bad news. I usually feel good as soon as I leave, but then I get hit with a ton of bricks a little while afterwards… I am always thinking “I shouldn’t be an an oncologists office right now”… then I feel bad for myself. I usually have a good outlook on my whole situation, but the days that I deal with the doctors and/or treatment, I usually feel down.

  6. Kairol Rosenthal Says:
    April 2nd, 2009 at 10:26 PM

    Sara raises a great point: you can have two perspectives at once - the big picture and the here and now.

    I think it helps to remember that just because we are diving into dismay does not mean that we have suddenly lost all hope or become negative patients. Cancer is a large experience and we have to make room for having a multitude of responses, even simultaneously.

    The hard feelings suck, but they have never swallowed me alive and it is just too tiring for me to only focus on the positive when the negative is lurking inside. You know the whole yin and yang thang does make a lot of sense!

  7. Ed Says:
    April 2nd, 2009 at 10:28 PM

    I have been a lurker for a while here… and am not physically in my 20s or 30s anymore (40s)… so I hope this is OK to post.

    I was so fearful ahead of my last colonoscopy because a radiologist’s interpretation of a CT scan found a possible 7mm something after an all-clear colonoscopy just a year before. That’s a fast-growth. It turned out OK, but I was just sick going under having known what the reality of a tumor would mean for me and my family/friends.

    My relief was palpable, my emotions raw.

    Congratulations on your news.

  8. Jessica Says:
    April 3rd, 2009 at 3:39 PM

    Kairol, happy to hear the good news-have a wonderful time in Boston this weekend!

  9. Ashley Says:
    April 3rd, 2009 at 3:55 PM

    I am always very nervous and anxious the night before my appointments. And unfortunately in my case it has been a very long time since I have had any good news. So in my case I always have to process things first in my head before I can go telling everyone about the outcome and I think because I am so reserved about everything I think it would be the same even if I did get good news.

  10. Jen Says:
    April 4th, 2009 at 7:54 AM

    I’m glad that you did not have bad news. I totally understand what you’re saying about the emotional aftermath, though. All my friends and family wanted to congratulate me and party! after my clean scan in December but…I just wasn’t feeling it. I know that it could come back. I was still feeling sick and terrible and moody and there is SO much more to it than just having a clean scan.

  11. Nancy Says:
    April 4th, 2009 at 8:13 PM

    I always feel so much relief and happiness at the good news but it does not last. Eventually the fear starts creeping back. I find though that the longer I’ve been in remission, the longer the peace lasts. The time immediately before a doc visit post scan is pretty torturous. Last time I took a couple of antianxiety meds and felt a wee bit out of it during the appointment!

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