A face mask, six feet apart sign, medical sign, check list, and stop sign.

Diagnosis Part 3

Last updated: September 2021

Blindsided by the events of the last two days, my boyfriend and I made our way to the hospital. My cancer was back, and we dropped everything to go to the ER to find out what was actually going on.

The coronavirus had been decimating hospitals worldwide for the last few months. Signs directed Covid-19 testing traffic to the hospital's back while nurses in hazmat suits standing outside the ER were waiting to take our temperature before we could enter. It looked like a scene from one of those post-apocalyptic movies in which a virus gets out, only this was really happening.

Being admitted to the hospital for testing

A nurse stopped me at the entrance, took my temperature, and asked me a series of questions about my interactions with Covid-19. She then handed us a new mask and let us in the door. Only a few steps through, we found what looked like an airport security screener. The guards' searches were intense, so my boyfriend stayed back to let the guard deflower my purse--as if one could smuggle Covid-19 in through their wallet--and I could move on to triage.

Realizing I didn't have a plan, I walked up to the woman sitting at the front desk and managed to squeak out, I have cancer. She gave me a quizzical look. I mean, I think I have a broken back. Looking me up and down, she asked for my name to enter into the computer.

Not understanding why she wasn't doing more, I blurted out my name, then said, my doctors, told me to come here...She said she had called ahead. After that, I realized the room was spinning, and I asked for a chair as I walked toward the empty waiting room. My boyfriend was still watching my purse in security.

Yes, of course! The woman went to grab me a wheelchair as I wandered out of her view. When she finally caught up to me, she slid the wheelchair under my legs, then looked me in the eye, Now tell me why you are here?

The next thing I remember, I was in an exam room being admitted to the hospital. The following 8 hours are nothing more than a blur now. Although, I do recall begging the admitting doctor to let me have a room so I could sleep.

Being admitted

When I got to my room that evening, I was surprised to find a double. I was the only resident at the time. Late in hours of the first night, the hospital staff snuck in a roommate, she was older, and I figured she must be a late-stage Alzheimers patient
from the noises she was making, which were really no problem.

The problem arose the following morning when her daughter arrived. Let's just say she wanted nothing but the best for her poor mother and was willing to go to bat for it. Although, I am sure her mother must have wished for a bit of peace and quiet, as did I and the entire staff working on that floor.

Oncology team

Over 48 hours with multiple scans and endless meetings with doctors, I finally got the talk I had waited for. The hospital's entire oncology team entered my room, with the head of oncology delivering the news. First, the good news: my back wasn't actually broken. I just have several massive tumors in that area that could look broken to the lesser trained doctors.

Umm, Yay. I thought to myself.

The rest of the report was pretty much what I had expected. I had metastatic cancer. I would need a biopsy to confirm that it was the same cancer as my breast, which would be done before leaving the hospital. The doctors told me that it had spread to much of my spine, hips, sternum, and ribs.

I had known this all along but hearing it from a doctor meant something more. It solidified these set truths in my mind. Tears fell from my eyes, but I don't remember feeling much at the time; I must have been in shock.

The doctors gave me a chance to ask questions. I drew blank. Thank god my boyfriend was there taking notes, or who knows, I may have thought it was all a bad dream.


As the team of doctors shuffled out the door, the daughter from the next bed over pulled back the privacy curtain and said, I just heard what they said. I wanted to let you know that my two sisters had breast cancer, and they were treated here before they died, and they both had really wonderful care.

I looked back, wondering why she would think that was comforting?. My boyfriend said, Thank you, and pulled the curtain shut.

A few hours later, I was transferred to a single room. My nurse didn't have to say anything as he pushed my bed down the hall, the sounds of complaints trailing off the closer we got to my new room.

Biopsy results

My biopsy was done two days later, confirming that it was, in fact, metastasis of my breast cancer, allowing them to start treatment a week later, during Thanksgiving.

Check out part 4 here.

Editor's Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on September 6, 2023, Vicki Thompson passed away. Vicki's advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.

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