Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Getting "the call" about Potential Cancer

If I've learned anything in my life, it's that keeping secrets is a terrible way to process and work through important things. And let's be honest, I'm kind of known for talking about things most others choose not to talk about. So let's do this.

As many of you know, I contracted Pertussis (adult whooping cough) back in the mid-90's, when a group of idiotic parents here in San Diego decided they knew better than science and chose to not vaccinate their children. As you can imagine, the number of cases surged and people like me got caught in the mess. 

Ever since then, my permanently damaged lungs have struggled with bronchitis and pneumonia. A couple of weeks ago was one of those times, and I had bronchitis so bad that my doctor recommended a lung x-ray to be sure nothing else was going on.

Turns out, there is something more going on. The nurse called yesterday morning to tell me the xray showed that I have "two right lower lobe lung nodules measuring 8 and 9 mm, appearing from the prior exam." She also told me the doctor wanted to see me right away to discuss the findings. And that right away meant a telephone appointment next Monday was too long to wait and I am seeing him today.

Big news, right? I've since read that the size of the nodules indicates only a ten percent chance they are malignant. More likely, they are benign and we'll just have to keep an eye on them. But first they will probably recommend a biopsy to know for sure. But why the big urgency from my doctor? I don't know and won't know until my appointment this morning.

I'll be honest. Yesterday was a tough day to get through. I kept playing worst-case scenarios through my mind and most of them ended terribly.

Late in the afternoon, I spoke to a friend who had already dealt with his own bout with cancer. He was calming and said all the right things. But I still felt pretty stressed about everything.

In the early evening, another friend texted me, and part of her message was to ask how I was doing. Just like that, despite deciding to tell know no one about this, I found myself texting her all about it. And not thirty minutes after that, another friend reached out and I did the same thing. I opened up to her and shared all the details.

And you know what? After that, I was able to calm down enough to have a relaxing evening sitting in my living room reading.

The moral of this story? Secrets suck. Once I let myself open up to friends and talk about what was happening, I was able to see all of this through a different lens. Yes, I am absolutely still worried about what is going on. And I am anxious about seeing my doctor. But I am not dealing with this alone. My husband and friends will be right here with me through it all, no matter what is coming. That provides a comfort and a strength that helps me stay grounded. 

So there will be more to this story in the days ahead, but for now, here's a handy infographic I created that illustrates my state of mind as the day went on.  

I can handle whatever comes my way. That's the real lesson I need to remember.


  1. Sending you much-needed, love and support, JOHN. I often find the waiting is worse than the actual appointment but unfortunately we have to go through it. Prayers for great results.

    1. Thanks, friend. I'm suprisingly calm about this today.

  2. I love your graphic! Amazing... but not surprising. You are brilliant & can do anything you set your mind to. And that includes dealing with whatever this phase sends your way. Remember, you guys walked me thru my cancer diagnosis & treatment. And now you can see that it slowed me down for a minute - but it definitely didn't stop me. You are strong and surrounded by love and support. So keep your chin up. You've got this. And when it gets too heavy, just let us help you carry the weight. We're all love you, John Hulsey!

  3. John, I don't have the words ro express what an incredible human being you are. You have so many to support you as you have supported others.WE got you & this. ~peri