Thursday, September 28, 2006

...And God Spoke

Today is D-Day. Today is the day I find out the results of the bevy of tests I had this week (is two enough to warrant a "bevy?" I'm saying yes here). Those tests will tell me and my oncologist -- or at least give a decent idea -- whether or not my cancer has returned. My consult is at 1:00 pm.

But this isn't about that, really. It's related to it... but this post is really about an unbelievable bit of reassurance and comfort I received Thursday, in the most unlikely of places. I was not expecting it, and I did not ask for it... but it was exactly what I needed, without even knowing it.

And as pithy and self-righteous as the title of this post may sound... for the life of me I can't think of a better way to sum up what I'm feeling right now.

First, some background. As I mentioned in recent posts, I recently bought a new car -- a Mazda 6. I first went to the dealership last month, two days before I found out that my cancer may have recurred. It took me three weeks -- three tough weeks -- before I decided I was of clear-enough mind to go ahead and buy the car, with all that was going on. I haven't regretted the decision; I love the car (although I still miss the GA... and the GA's sunroof.)

Anyway... yesterday, I took the new car back to the dealership to pick up my new license plates. I also had a detail coming to me (although I've washed the car three times since I've had it, waxed it once, and it wasn't really 'dirty') and I was waiting in the dealership's showroom for that to be done when one of the sales managers walked up to me. I'd chatted with him a few times during the buying process, and I shook his hand as he asked me how I was enjoying the new car.

"Hey, got a second?" he asked me.

We chatted a bit about the new showroom fixtures being installed at the dealership, as per Mazda dictate ("I think it's all just a way for Mazda to sell furniture," he quipped) and then lowered his voice.

"Just so you know... I went through what you're now going through about 10 years ago."
It took me a second to understand what he was talking about... and it hit me just as he said, "TC. I had it, and had my last round of chemo right before my 35th birthday."

He told me about his experience. How he discovered he had it, and how it affected him. He told me about the "fucking asshole" urologist who had told him "he had good news and bad news"... where the good news was it was treatable. And he answered my questions... all of which were much more personal than the typical "car salesman/customer" relationship normally allows.
He told me about his experience being on chemo... the hair loss ("I looked like Grasshopper from the Kung Fu movies"), the sickness, the smell.

"And here it is 10 years later -- I got testicular cancer before it was 'cool' -- and I'm doing fine. It's never come back."

It never occurred to me to ask who told him I was going through this -- I'd told the salesman when he called me the day I found out, August 28, to let me know they'd agreed to the numbers I'd wanted -- and it never occurred to me to be at least a little pissed that my health was the subject of gossip at a car dealership.

Fact is... he didn't have to say anything. It's not a story a lot of men would feel comfortable sharing with a relative stranger. But he chose to share his story, because he felt it would help me. And it did.

For the first time this month... first time this year... I was able to talk to someone who had gone through what I am going through now, and reassure me in a way no one else I know could right now. At a car lot. What are the odds?

We talked for about 15 minutes, before the salesman came back with my now-even-cleaner car. I shook his hand again -- a grateful wringing -- and thanked him for telling me.
"No problem. And if you ever need to talk, or have any questions, you know how to reach me here."
I left the dealership feeling... heartened. And with a sense of reassurance I haven't had in the past month. For the first time, I felt I really knew, and believed, that even if the diagnosis is bad... it's not the end of the world.

I can't begin to describe what I'm feeling now, as I write about this. I am still scared... terrified... and I still expect the worst today. But there's also this feeling of genuine hope now... of optimism... and, of gratitude, to both my fellow TC survivor and also... well, you know.

And God spoke, and sent me a sign even I... not the most religious person, especially lately... believe to be heaven-sent. 

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