A cancer diagnosis – The right place at the right time

Cancer diagnosis by Sarah James

When my husband collapsed into my arms at midnight completely unconscious and I screamed for my older son to come and help, I didn’t think we were in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. In fact I didn’t think at all. I felt my bones shaking inside of me, ignored them and went into automatic pilot, making a snap decision to rush him to hospital instead of waiting for an ambulance.

When we arrived at the hospital and they did test after test through the long wee hours of the morning I didn’t thank my lucky stars that we’d ended up at the right place at the right time; I just waited, still shaking, wondering where this was all heading.

When the doctor told us she thought Pete had had a vagus nerve response; a panic attack due to the fact he’d had a virus which made his chest feel strange and we could go home, I was relieved, sort of, but so much happier when she said we may as well stay overnight seeing we’d come all this way.

The next morning when a chest x-ray showed a grey shadow in the centre of Pete’s chest I was glad we hadn’t gone home, and for the first time since he collapsed I had an inkling that we might be in the right place at the right time.

Pete ended up staying in hospital for a week as test after test unfolded, the type of rapid diagnosis you can only get in a high functioning hospital. If we’d gone home when the doctor thought it was simply a vagus nerve response, or if the collapse hadn’t been so complete and so scary and we’d avoided hospital altogether, we’d have been paddling around in the land of GPs and referrals. The tumour in his chest would have grown larger and larger, becoming more and more life threatening.

It wasn’t until Pete was back in hospital starting his treatment that I had time to reflect on the perfection of the flow of events that had allowed us to be sitting here with Pete still alive. The day before Pete collapsed he went surfing, he felt pressure in his chest and a bit dizzy, if he’d collapsed in the waves he would have drowned. The day before that he’d been boxing. The day before that he’d been on his motorbike.

I don’t know if you call this good luck or universal flow. What I do know is that I felt completely supported by something that was greater than both us. I knew intuitively that that support was there to hold us and carry us to exactly where it was we needed to go. We didn’t need to know where we were going, in fact it was better that we didn’t. All we did need to do was surrender, completely and wholly, offering no resistance, giving up all need to orchestrate or control. By doing this it didn’t mean that everything was going to be fine, but it did mean that the road we were being forced to travel along felt a lot smoother than it would have if we were putting up a fight.

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