when reality hits, it hits hard. the question that lingered over my family was, what’s next? i was just beginning my third session in PA school and it was our turn to make a move in my dad’s treatment. according to his pathology report post-surgery, we learned that his type of cancer was high grade or stage 4. but this for some reason didn’t break me. maybe it was because i didn’t hear the news directly from a doctor, that it was just something i read on a piece of paper. it didn’t seem real, so i easily thought what’s next? because our insurance dictates who you see for health care, we were directed to a medical team that didn’t specialize in sarcomas. just our luck. while my parents insisted that a doctor is better than no doctor, my sisters and i demanded a second opinion at Stanford, where they treat and do research on this particular cancer. it was surprisingly granted by our insurance, even though my sisters and i were prepared to pay the whooping $300-600 for a consult (i forgot the exact numbers, but it was pretty high up there). my spirits hopeful, i went about my schoolwork, always staying in touch, making sure my dad got the best care.
i was home from yoga (which is a new topic in itself) and was already starting to cook dinner, when i got the call from my sisters. i was excited. i was ready to hear new information, new plans, new medical terms to look up. but my sisters took my phone call to another room and confessed the dreadful news – 1 year. my face instantly lost all expression. i looked down at the kitchen counter as all these memories and thoughts rushed through my head. i began to sob into my hands, so much i couldn’t breathe. i was helpless, numb. i could only imagine what that appointment was like, and i’m not sure to this day if i’m thankful i wasn’t there to experience my family struggle with the news or guilty that i wasn’t there to be strong for them. maybe i got the worst of it all, because i was completely alone in a huge apartment with thoughts of my family falling apart and fatherless, with nothing of home to comfort me.
i went to school bitter and confused, uninterested in the world of medicine. i was stuck. i was neither qualified to treat my dad or physically home to help. i was just in the middle of school, in the middle of the desert. but knowing me, i had to do something. i realized that being away from home at such a critical and important time helped no one. i wouldn’t be my best during school if i stayed and FaceTime can only hold up for so long. i needed to be there. it was the toughest decision i ever had to make, but support from friends and teachers helped tremendously. in only a few days time, i made my one year leave of absence official with the dean and had my bags packed. it was quick and fast, but it hurt nonetheless knowing i was leaving my dreams to drive a dark and twisted road, for who knows how long. and while my world changed in the blink of an eye, my roller coaster feelings remain constant, making its presence known, for who knows how fucking long. right now, it feels like infinity.