Forever Changed

It was a normal morning in November of 2008.  I was in the shower getting ready for the day.  I reached for my loofah (bath sponge) and shower gel.  No loofah!  It was across the bathroom in the tub and I was in a hurry so I just put some shower gel in my hand.  As I moved my hand under my right arm, I felt a lump.  I thought to myself…that’s odd.  Then I compared it to the left side and something was definitely different with my right side.  I quickly got dressed and went to work.  I was the only administrator at school that day so I had no other option.  By the time I was able to contact my primary care doctor, I had an appointment for the first week in December.  My primary care doctor sent me for a CAT scan suspecting that it was lymphoma and a mammogram just to be on the safe side.  I just had a mammogram in March and I was very vigilant to get one every year. During the mammogram, a lump was detected in my right breast and two suspicious masses in my right axilla (under arm). The radiologists wanted to do biopsies that day but I was in shock.  I can still see myself to this day crouched in the corner of that room as she insisted I get the biopsy right then.  I scheduled a biopsy before I left. In the meantime, I got ready for Christmas and for Paige’s (my eldest daughter) graduation from nursing school. I only told my husband and my dear friend Moe.  They were my immediate support.

Paige and I at her graduation from nursing school
Paige and I at her graduation from nursing school

Biopsy Results

On December 26, 2008, the day after Christmas, I was in my car on my way to shop for some after Christmas deals when I received a call from my doctor’s nurse.  She asked if I had been contacted regarding my biopsy results.  I told her that no one had called yet.  She said that my doctor was out of town but she would have the doctor on call contact me later that day.  The call came that afternoon while I was at home with Kelsey, my youngest daughter.  The doctor told me that I had breast cancer!  He was very apologetic for delivering the news over the phone.  Of course I was full of questions like… How bad is it?  What stage is it?  What now?  He told me that he didn’t know how to read the pathology report but that he didn’t want me to worry.  (Really?  Didn’t want me to worry?)  He went on to say that many of his patients were 10, 20 and even 30 years breast cancer survivors. An appointment was scheduled with a Surgical Oncologist for Monday.  It was Friday and I had to wait until Monday to find out details.  All I could think about was how would I tell my husband, children, mother, other family members and friends.

After I hung up the phone, tears streamed down my face. I sat in the front room and stared out the window and I prayed!  I remembered a song that we used to sing in church when I was a little girl.

Peace, peace, wonderful peace coming down from the Father above.

Sweep over my spirit forever I pray in fathomless billows of love.

You see…I am a believer…a Christian…a person of strong faith and I prayed….

Telling Others of My Diagnosis

When Doug came home from work, I told him that I indeed had breast cancer.  I don’t remember his full reaction but I know he told me that everything would be alright.  We told the girls that night and I totally recall their reaction.  Kelsey (17), my youngest, just sat there and looked at me and Paige (21), the eldest, said, “So you are going to die?”   I replied, “I don’t plan to die.  God will heal me.” The next night Doug and I went to tell my mom.  I didn’t want to give her that news over the phone.  Doug’s side of the family was in New Mexico so I had to tell them by phone.

It was a long weekend.

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