Surgery Postponed: I feel like an imposter

Suzette Standring
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Yesterday, my March 4 surgery to remove a tumor on my left lung lobe was cancelled while I was in the surgery staging area. Today, the first thing I said to David was, “Well, I still have all my lobes.”  The good news: that load of laundry in my closet won’t fester for a week after all. 

(If you’re tuning in for the first time, here’s the freaky background story.)

The tail end of a cold put my white blood cell count low, but expectation was that it would be fine by surgery time.  Didn’t happen. Now I have to retake a blood test and get a new surgery date.

But if you can stand another post from The Little Girl Who Cried Surgery, here’s what happened.

Dress well. Cancer is a very expensive disease, so said Marianne Nunes, a memorable acquaintance.  So, at 8:30 a.m., I showed up at pre-op surgery wearing a new sweater and a scarf festooned with violets.

But all style was soon stripped down to an oversized cotton johnny and an ugly hairnet cap.  I was marked up, IV’d up, electroded up, and lightly sedated. 

(Photo of the marked section on my rib where the surgeons were going to cut)

They were just bending me over for a pain block when the surgeon wanted to know where the results of my last minute blood test were, STAT!

Later, the cancellation.  


There I was, my hairnet cap hanging into my eyes, pleading my case.  “Wait.  I’m not like other people.  I can really rally!”

The doctor said, “Oh, I’m sure you can.  That’s why your low white blood cell count is so surprising.”

Snappy.  Who can argue with that? I wanted to express rage and disappointment, but I could only yawn. Dang, that sedative was nice.

But seriously, cut me already!

What an exhausting roller coaster ride for me and David, who had been losing sleep, steppin’ and fetchin’, and making ten gallons of soup.  (A few days ago, our kitchen counter looked like Meryl Streep’s onion chopping scene from “Julie, Julia.”

We got home and David had to take to his bed.

“Do you want any soup, honey?” I asked.

I tackled work on the NSNC conference with a vengeance. David texted my friend Vivian, “She’s at it again” and Vivian wrote back, “Let her.  She needs the distraction.”

So the hardest part was reading all the FB prayers, well wishes and questions, “How are you feeling, post-surgery?”

A delivery of flowers arrived, and I felt like an imposter. 

So many created this whole “George Bailey” prayer thing on my behalf, and I feel a teeny bit embarrassed.  Seriously, The Little Girl Who Cried Surgery.

I know! I know! Prayers never go to waste, Reiki is always healing, there’s a reason, better safe than sorry, doctors know best, I have to go with the flow, Mercury is in retrograde anyway, and Little Miss Hurry-Up must learn to chill.

Now I’m back to leaving it in The Master’s Hands.  Last night, I sat in front of the TV,  wearing my PJ’s, eating ice cream and I thought, “Really, what am I complaining about?”

Thanks for sticking with me.


  1. So well written and with that Suz humor. Thanks for the details. Knowing you, you still maintained your confidence and dignity with surgeon even while sporting the XXL Johnny and hairnet. Making headway on the abundant oniony soup your loving husband prepared?

  2. Mitch Pulizzano

    Thanks Suzette,Keep up the GREAT work.Your writing are a GIFT forever!! Just like YOURSELF!!!!!LOVE FROM S.F

  3. Sharon Dillon

    What a story!
    So amazing how God sets up “coincidences” to put us in the right place at the right time. This seems like royal pain, but who knows what the outcome of the delay will be. So glad you’re accessing Reiki and inner God messages. I believe God wouldn’t give us those gifts unless we are to use them.
    Please keep us informed – whatever the outcome.
    In the meantime, have fun in Texas.

    • Sharon, I had the surgery on March 18, and the tumor was malignant, but it was encapsulated. So it was fully removed with clean margins and no further treatment required. Whew!

  4. Hi, I’m new to your column . I’d like to know if pre-op whether you knew if the tumor was benign at that point or malignant. As a nurse I understand these things pretty well and know that a biopsy was likely done pre-op .But I could only get that far cause I’ve yet to subscribe to your column but do intend to. I hope it was benign and you have had it removed since the post or at least you didn’t need to wait very long after the postponement. Best wishes,
    Boston, Ma.

    • My tumor was 3.7 cm and the doctor decided it had to come out no matter what. He did not do a biopsy first because he didn’t want to disturb it. When it was removed, it tested malignant. From the time I was diagnosed to the time of surgery was less than three weeks. It would have been sooner, but I had a slight cold, and he wouldn’t take a chance because my white blood cell count was lower than it should have been.

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