AFGO

verb/ôf-go; as in, Another Fucking Growth Opportunity

You know the old adage, “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it?” No cliche has ever been proven to be more true in this lifetime, at least for me.

So. A month ago, I arrived at my hematologist's office to get the results from a bone marrow biopsy. The biopsy sucked, but more suck-ass than that was the fear surrounding a test of that significance. It’s pretty fucking scary by the way, especially a (apparently very rare) sternum biopsy. More anxiety-producing is what your friends and family try to do to reassure you. I mean, c’mon. Something must be horribly wrong if they’re going so far as to sedate you and poke a hole in your chest bone.

“You’ll be fine,” my sister cheerfully responded when I told her I was worried that they’d gone THAT FAR for a diagnosis. “I know it!” She exclaimed.

The man: “You’re healthy! Look at you! You look great; you’ve been working out and you’re tan, and you look more beautiful than ever!

Friends: “It’s perfectly normal to worry! I’d be worried too. But they’re just making sure! BUT I REALLY THINK YOU’RE GOING TO BE OKAY! YOU KICKED CANCER’S ASS!”

Well, my handsome doc came into the tiny, rather warm exam room with uncharacteristic solemnity.

He didn’t look so good. And, after greeting us, the first word he uttered was: “Unfortunately.” I was sitting on the exam table, and my friend and my man were in chairs along the wall. And then he paused and looked at me steadily, “Let me sit down first.” Once he took his seat on the rolling stool in the room, he looked up at me, and held my gaze. He paused.

Have you ever known fear and dread on such a scale that it feels as though an iceberg is rapidly forming in the center of your chest? The ice crystals burst forth from your heart, and expand expand expand — to your feet and fingers, up and down your spine, into your gut — ending with skull-numbing sensory deprivation. That was me; I couldn’t hear, but I could. I couldn’t breathe, but I did. I believe my heart stopped. I looked at my man and my friend, my strength and my courage — you know, the ones who said they were sure everything was fine. Eyes like saucers they were. The color drained from their faces.

“I’m so sorry,” the doctor said. “We are all so sorry, and shocked.” I looked back at him then. I saw sadness, and empathy, and compassion, and love. And even with that swimming-head-iceberg-expanding-wish-I’d-pass-out-then-wake-up-from-this-nightmare-and-find-out-it-isn’t-true feeling, I knew he really meant it. He was suffering.

This man, this human, this doctor — he didn’t want to be the one to use those words, yet he exhibited profound courage and strength in doing what had to be done, saying what had to be said. I got so much in that tiny moment about compassion, and the beauty of humanity.

It really is how you say it. But sometimes, you don’t even have to #useyourwords.

And, off I go.

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