The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

I’ve got to be honest, I haven’t read the complete works of Dickens, but I’ll always remember the opening line from A Tale of Two Cities.  Those words defined my life this week—‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

Stop and smell the roses Stop and smell the roses

Monday morning at 8:27 a.m. I received an email from a respected agent asking to read my full manuscript. Life couldn’t be much better—well, having her love it and make me an offer could be a little better, but still, I was flying high. My query to this respected literary agent piqued her interest! My dream was coming true.

At noon I went in for an ultrasound to see if I might have a hernia—no big deal. As the technician asked me more and more questions, I began to suspect she was seeing something abnormal. At 3:00 p.m. the phone rang and since I didn’t recognize the number, I let it go to voicemail. As I listened to the message, the first words I heard were something about not wanting to alarm me.  My doctor was happy to report that I did not have a hernia, but he needed me to see a specialist to check out a mass on my bladder. Mass? Tumor, cyst, cancer?  What the hell? Definitely the worst of times!

The specialist would see me on Thursday—exactly 72 hours after ‘the call’. This doctor normally wouldn’t have had an opening until July, so I was beginning to feel the gravity of the situation. Seventy-two hours doesn’t seem like much, does it? Just enough time to re-evaluate my entire life.

As I waited for the consultation and results of further testing, I tried to think the best, but secretly feared the worst. What if it was cancer? Would it be treatable? Would I be out golfing this season or sitting in a room with a needle in my arm? And if I had have to have Chemo, would I tolerate it? I thought of my best friend, Mary Ann, who died twenty years ago after all the cancer treatments failed to save her life. She was only forty-two. And, I lost my dad to cancer, too. This damn blob in my bladder better not take me down that path.

After three tortuous days, the tiny traveling camera invaded my body and projected a picture of my tumor on a screen beside me. It looked pretty ominous and as my heart skipped a beat, the doctor calmly told me that this was a ‘good’ tumor—not cancer—it needed to go, but it wasn’t going to kill me. I could breathe again!

Sunset through Hanni's eyes Sunset through Hanni’s eyes

I would continue to see the beautiful Edmonds beach sunsets, but they would never look quite the same. Although the crisis was non-existent, knowing life could have been taken so quickly opened my eyes. I have fewer years ahead of me than behind me, but I will do my best to make the most of each day I have left on this earth.

So, excuse me. I need to go plan my next trip, go feed some ducks, take a walk on the beach, write my next book, play golf in Whistler or just sit on my deck with a glass of red wine. That may be a waste my precious time, but I have a little more than I expected three days ago, so I’ll stop and smell the roses. I hope all of you will do the same.cropped-img_15151.jpg

No two sunsets alike No two sunsets alike
Golfing with the bears in Whistler Golfing with the bears in Whistler
Baby ducks on the golf course Baby ducks on the golf course
Trip to San Francisco Trip to San Francisco

9 thoughts on “The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

  1. It is “life changing” to evaluate your future when you think your time may be shorter than you thought. Suddenly, the small irritants don’t matter and what is important is all that matters. I’m so very glad the mass is benign and resolved with surgery. Enjoy each day, doing what you love best. (Hope that agent loves your book! 😊)

    • Pat, I thought of you as I wrote this. Your journey through cancer and back was miraculous–you are so strong. I’m so glad you made it through that ordeal! Your positive attitude and heartfelt comments mean a lot to me.

  2. <3. Loved this, Jacquie – I was holding my breath for you – and now I'll hold it again waiting for the good news! Thank you for sharing this .

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