After nearly 9 days of waiting, I emailed Rich's Primary Care Provider and asked if she had any information on the Pathology report.
The week and weekend had been agonizing. Little things set both of us off and we snapped at each other. We'd stop and apologize. We were on edge.
He'd called his family to tell them but we really didn't have anything to 'tell'.
It was like giving bad news without details. Everyone always wants details.
Can they treat it?
When is surgery?
These were all questions we didn't know ourselves.
With the internet so readily available, I started to do some research. I wasn't sure what I was looking for so it made the search regarding 'Throat Cancer' much worse.
Grim stuff. And if one dared look at images, even more grim stuff.
Finally the phone call came. The person on the other end asked for Rich and I handed him the phone.
I wanted to pick up the other line and listen.
I felt pretty foolish and thought that would be in invasion of privacy somehow.
So I waited, and then went outside to give him privacy.
When I came back in he had hung up the phone.
"What did the doctor say?"
He shrugged. "I have cancer in the throat and it had a marker or some such thing. Like R16."
"What's that?" I asked.
"How the hell should I know?" he was exasperated. "Why didn't you just pick up the other line and listen?. They said something about a PET scan and that would tell us more."
This was my 'ah-hah' moment, the second I realized that I would have to be involved in every doctor-patient conversation.
It took me a while to figure out that my email to his Provider had got the ball rolling as far as someone calling us. I compared the time the email was acknowledged and read to the time of the phone call.
9 days had passed and we were still in the dark.
Somehow it felt like a lifetime.
Both of us were swimming in emotions. Good one moment, angry the next. We were short with each other.
A day passed.
Another phone call. It was the VA Dental Department calling. Could Rich come in for an appointment today?
"No," I replied, "tomorrow?" Tomorrow it was. It was in regards to his recent diagnosis.
I explained to the gal on the phone that we didn't know the diagnosis, could someone please tell us?
Finally Dr. D., the dentist got on the phone. "Squamous Cell Carcinoma with Left Tonsil Involvment." That was what he could tell me.
Well, at least there was a name for it.
I looked it up and decided I needed more information. One piece of information I was able to glean was that before treatment, which would involve radiation therapy, would be to see a dentist to take care of any dental issues.
We'd be off to Madison again the next day.