I’m going to be okay, right?! A year ago today, I posed that question to my person, who reassured me that, of course, I was going to be okay. Despite wanting to believe him, I already knew the truth, which was confirmed the next day. I had breast cancer.
On Tuesday, October 20, 2015, at roughly 1:10 p.m., I received a call informing me that the suspicious spot that showed up on my mammogram and ultrasound was promoted to the status of a malignant tumor. The words had barely left the radiologist’s mouth when she started peppering me with a barrage of questions, all of which needed immediate answers. What health insurance do you have? Do you have a particular surgeon that you want to see? How soon can you come in for further biopsies? It was overwhelming, and it was only the beginning.
I remember hanging up the phone and standing in the middle of my bedroom in tears and in utter disbelief. Breast cancer?! No, no, no. This could not be possible. I have zero family history of breast cancer and none of the risk factors, other than I have breasts, which apparently is enough. No, no, no. I have ulcerative colitis and a family history of colon cancer, so, that’s the club I have been bracing myself to be inducted into, not this club. This was a mistake. Only it wasn’t.
As I stood there alone, my mind was racing, as I thought, what do I do now? I was trying to keep it together, but everything felt like it was falling apart. Again. So, I did what I normally do when I have something to share, I called my person. I don’t remember the entire conversation, other than I blurted out, I have cancer and began to cry. I also recall saying repeatedly, I don’t have time for this! That ludicrous statement was topped by my proclamation that, This has been the worst year of my life, and this all has to be done by December 31, 2015. I am not going to deal with this in 2016! That was the first and last time I ever acted like I had complete control over this situation.
After making the painful calls to my parents and ex-husband to tell them the news, I returned to work to notify my boss and to finish all of the tasks needed to reach my daily productivity goal. Some people have marveled at the fact that I finished my work day, but what else was I going to do? My entire world had been rocked to the core, and I desperately craved a return to normalcy. I wanted my life back that existed prior to 1:10 p.m., so, I resumed my routine.
I was determined to keep things as normal as possible, even though things were not normal at all. There is nothing normal about cancer. Nothing. I still have pangs of survivor’s guilt, especially after the death of my sweet friend from breast cancer a few months ago, and I have an underlying fear that it will come back with a vengeance. I still am just a girl from Kentucky, but that girl has been forever changed, in ways that I am still discovering.
As I prepare to mark my first year since my diagnosis, I feel like I should have some sort of wise words to share, but I don’t. I only have these random thoughts and observations from the past year:
- Life can change in an instant, for better or for worse.
- The worst of times can bring out the best in some people and, well, the worst in others.
- I have never felt such abject fear in my life as I did during the first few months of being in this stupid club.
- There really is nothing remotely funny about cancer, but my bad ass friend, Jennifer, and I manage to find the very dark and sick humor in all of it.
- My friend, Michelle, taught me the true meaning of friendship, as she guided me through the beginning of this journey, while she was coming to the end of hers.
- It is unacceptable that in 2016 there is no cure for cancer.
- Of all of the times I have felt lonely in my life, I never felt lonelier than when I was left by myself in the room when I was receiving radiation.
- I still dislike pink.
- I don’t want to hear horror stories about cancer treatment or deaths from cancer, as I am well-versed in both.
- My scars are visible and invisible.
- I still don’t have time for this, and I don’t want to deal with this in 2017.
- I am grateful beyond measure to still be alive and hope to keep that roll going!
- I love my family and friends more than they ever will know, and I can’t thank them enough for supporting me and putting up with me.
I’m going to be okay, right?!
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story