I worried and analyzed – our finances, our budget, our life-style which already wasn’t high on the hog. I researched mouth cancer and mouth cancer treatments.
Scouring the house, I angrily purged as many wayward rounds of chew as I could find. I already knew his favorite hiding places.
Bottles of spit hid under the computer desk. If a book looked out of place, I would likely find a tin behind it. In the laundry room, behind the soap. In the pantry, behind the home-canned vegetables. Under his recliner. Under the car seat.
Two weeks later, we were back in the waiting room. Jeff had told me he didn’t think I needed to come along. I told him we were a “we” therefore “we” needed to handle this together.
It was a weekday, so we got there early and waited for a little while. Not long enough for Jeff to be antsy, but he was. He got up and started to walk away.
“Where are you going?” I asked, adding, “They could call us soon.”
“I’m gonna go ask a question,” he said.
“It’s not that late,” I commented, “Only five minutes – wait a few more.”
“Nah…” Jeff took a step backwards. “ I’m gonna go ask.”
I started to gather up our things, and he flipped his hands at me. “Why don’t you wait here? Save my seat.” he suggested.
“Did you find out anything?” I asked when he returned. “Yeah,” he said, “we’re on the list.”
About a minute later, it was our turn. Jeff was sweating bullets. I was holding his hand.
The same clinic physician met us in the exam room. He came in, abruptly dropped a file on the desk and crossed to the other side of the room. Leaning against a counter with his arms crossed, the doctor blew out a breath. We waited, holding ours.
“I’m here to tell you that the results…. were… clear.”
Jeff let go an exhale, and dropped his head. Stunned I blurted out, “Are you sure?”
“What?” Jeff looked at me. “Did you want me to have cancer?”
“Of course, I didn’t!” I smacked Jeff’s arm. “It’s just … I’m surprised. He was so sure!” I pointed, stammering on.
“Believe me,” the MD quipped. “No one…. was more surprised than me.”
“So, that’s it?” I asked.
His answer was aimed directly at Jeff. “I don’t like those spots,” he said. “I recommend you stop chewing tobacco. Immediately.”
“Ok.” Jeff said.
“What about something to help him quit?” I wanted to know.
“There’s gum and lozenges. Most stores have them.” With a short shrug, he strode across the room, shook Jeff’s hand and said, “Good luck to you, sir.”
Clearly. We’d dodged a lethal bullet.
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