For the past 13 years, I have been the one in the "white coat," the one who others are reluctant to come and see, who has to give out the bad news, the one who gets to make decisions on what is the best course of treatment for someone who is sick, who gets to help others negotiate their illnesses, who has gotten to use the scapel, needles, ultrasound and stethoscope as daily tools of my trade. That changed about a month ago, when an elevated blood test led to an MRI, which led to a phone call from my doctor.
As soon as I heard her say "there is a mass on your pituitary gland," my mind started racing. I went from trying to remember all my medical texts and what the pituitary did and what kind of growths occur there and what it would mean, to thinking about what this meant for me and continuing to serve in PNG, to what about my trip to Yellowstone with my family, etc. I had lots of questions with no immediate answers. Like most doctors, when I don't know something, I look it up on Up to Date. So after putting the phone down, I got on UTD and started reading all I could about what I was dealing with, reading about the kinds of growths, the various treatment options, etc. I started in my mind trying to navigate this and figure out how it wouldn't mess up the plans I had/have for my summer at home, for my return to PNG, etc.
In following weeks, I went from being the person going into the room to see the patients, to the one in the room, waiting for the doctor to come. Instead of just signing my name at the end of a patient's note, I now help the doctors write those notes with my medical information. I have signed my name to numerous HIPAA forms, have navigated patient portals, and have a calendar filled with various kinds of appointments in the weeks and months ahead. I went from being in control of my time and summer, to being at the mercy of all the openings at the doctors, labs, imaging places, etc.
Thankfully, I have been reassured in learning that most likely my growth (probably a prolactinoma) is benign - meaning noncancerous, that it won't spread, and that my days aren't numbered like you think of with others who have cancer. It is a tumor (medical term for any abnormal growth in the body, whether malignant or not) in a confined area, so continued growth of the mass can start to interfere with the other structures in that area of my brain, so it needs to shrink. The hope is that with medicine it will shrink and I can continue to serve God in PNG in August.
Obviously, my plans for my Home Assignment time have already been adjusted, and likely will continue to be so. Through this, I have had to be okay with letting go of my plans for tomorrow, next week, next month and possibly beyond. For someone like me, letting go doesn't come easily for me, especially when it includes the possibility of letting go of what I feel God continuing to call me to (continued service at Kudjip in August).
You can pray that the medicine will shrink the tumor and for me as I continue to wrestle with God about this change of plans, and about the unknown of tomorrow, trying to be okay with it being unknown, and trusting God for the next steps to be known, in their timing.