Saturday, September 19, 2015

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My legs automatically began to pace the room from the two waiting chairs to the oncologist’s desk to the cream-colored cot in front of me to a small sink and mirror on the far right corner of the room, only to repeat my tiny confined circle all over again. There was no soothing my anxiety. I was strung far too tight. One twitch of a muscle, and my short fuse would ignite, causing me to shoot off into the sky like a rocket. It was pure torture at its finest.
For the first time that I could remember since I’d become sick, Iris let me be, as though she knew how fragile I was. Each time I passed her, I dimly noted that she had shifted in her seat.
At last, a knock sounded on the door.
I nearly shouted, “Come in!”
Dr. Enright strolled into the room, calm and collected as ever. My gaze traveled over his face, attempting to read his royal-blue eyes, in hopes of finding the answers I so desperately needed. They revealed nothing, of course. He was a sealed vault.
He tilted his head toward Iris, causing his gray hair to shimmer beneath the overhead lighting. Looking back at me, he said, “Ms. Jennings, how are you this morning?”
I couldn’t lie to him. This was Dr. Lucas Enright, the man who had to be around the age of my foster parents, and he held my future in his hands. He knew all my worst fears about this tumor—the main one, the possibility of having my life being ripped away from me. There was no reason to withhold the truth from him.
“I’m a mess,” I confessed on a whoosh. My chest deflated with the sudden harsh movement, and white stars danced in my line of vision.
Dr. Enright set his hand on my arm to steady me. I blinked several times until I observed his brows were scrunched together—in understanding or maybe pity.
Gosh, I hope that’s not pity.
“Raelyn, please have a seat.” He guided me toward Iris. “With my old age, I’m afraid my reaction time has slowed. If you faint, I’d hate for you to hurt yourself.”
I sat down next to Iris. She linked her hand with mine as Dr. Enright pulled up his chair from my left and positioned himself right in front of me.
I stopped breathing. This is it—the moment I’ve been waiting for.
“Raelyn”—Dr. Enright let out a breath and smiled softly—“I’m not going to go into in-depth medical details that you might not understand. Hell, some of it I don’t even understand, as it clearly goes against science.” His tone was full of wonder.
“Just tell me,” I cried unevenly, locking eyes with the doctor before holding my breath once again.
“I’m delighted to say that you’re in remission, Raelyn. There will be no need to continue another phase of chemotherapy.”
Iris shot forward in her chair, making it squeak against the white tiled floor. “Oh my God,” she wept with a death grip on my hand.
The room began to spin as my vision blurred. Ten thousand emotions seized me and held me captive. That short emotional fuse I’d been worried about was now lit.
“What?” I asked Dr. Enright, my voice splintering along with my heart at the possibility of his words being true. I was certain I had misunderstood him. “But…but you told me that my chances of survival were”—I blinked several times, but I stood no chance against the rush of tears—“minimal.”
“They were,” the doctor stated softly, shaking his head in awe. “I can’t really even explain it myself. As I said, the nature of your specific type of glioma tumor was extremely aggressive, and for it to respond to chemotherapy goes against science. My hopes were to give you more time, knowing the odds of a complete recovery would be slim to none. Today, I sit before you as a proud man to be proven wrong.” He revealed a genuine smile and handed me my most recent scan. “Your MRI is clear. You are in complete remission, Raelyn. You are cancer-free.”
Riveted in silence, I glanced down at the MRI. The mass I recalled seeing on the original scan was indeed gone. By some miracle, it had vanished with my treatments.
“I’m—” I broke off and inhaled a fresh breath of air. “I’m cured?”
“Yes.” Dr. Enright beamed at me. Within seconds, his expression sobered. “But, Raelyn, I need you to understand that, more often than not, tumors such as yours have a high chance of redeveloping at some point in time. With that said, there is little knowledge of how long you will remain in remission.”
My throat swelled. I swallowed thickly at this new information while nodding. “I understand.”
Dr. Enright placed his hand on mine. His eyes filled with compassion as he said, “I will still need to monitor you closely, and we will need to repeat an MRI every three months.”
“Congratulations, Ms. Jennings.” Dr. Enright slightly lifted his hand and offered a handshake. “You are a free woman.”
I slipped my palm into his, overtaken by the emotions brewing inside me.

I’m free…but for how long?