Sayed’s Journal: The Moment of Diagnosis
The following is an excerpt from the journal Nazish Sayed, M.D., Ph.D., kept through cancer treatment upon the recommendation of his grief counselor. Sayed, an assistant member in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at Houston Methodist Research Institute, is now in remission from bladder cancer.
“Wake up! Wake up!” I kept telling myself, “Please wake up.” I kept telling myself, “It’s just a dream, I will soon wake up and everything will be OK.” I looked around the room and I saw my wife crying. Her mascara all smudged, clenching her teeth. I looked around the room, and I saw an unfamiliar face. It kept talking to me with a calm expression, as if telling me a nice bedtime story. And then it came back to me — I’m in my doctors office, sitting with my wife discussing the biopsy results. The unfamiliar face was my doctor, the person who would give me the most dreadful news. He said, “Well, the results didn’t come out the way we expected. Unfortunately, your biopsy showed that you have cancer.” The words hit me and it took me to another world. A world where I kept telling myself, “Wake up! Wake up!”
That night I had a dream and wished I didn’t wake. I saw myself, as a 10-year-old kid running in the fields of my grandmother’s home with my brother, and my mother calling me from the inside, “Come inside, it’s getting dark!” I kept replying, “A little bit longer, Mummy, I can see there is still some light.” And then I woke up, sweating and cursing myself. Why did I wake up? Can I just go back to sleep and keep running? I kept telling myself, “Don’t wake up! Don’t wake up!”
The irony is how desperately I wanted, within a single day, to have reality be a dream and then the dream to be reality.
The dream motivated me. The words I said, “I can see there is still some light,” told me there is light at the end of the tunnel, even thought the journey towards it might be dark. Soon there will be light.