Over the course of two weeks I have been felt up, flattened, measured and molded more than the entirety of my 35 years. I am getting married in ten days but this has nothing to do with a torturous bridal fitting.
I have cancer.
It’s weird just saying that out loud. They really should come up with a less horrific word. I’d be fine having unicorn flashes or lollipop lumps. But just the word itself becomes a black hole that sucks you in and turns you into the recipient of prayer chains and endless advice. It’s all coming from a good place; people don’t know what to do with that word any more than I do, but it’s overwhelming.
And so I’m writing.
I had found a lump in my breast the day before a 3 week work trip to Africa. I’m not even sure how I found it, I never do self exams, maybe I was just sore? My boob got in the way of reaching for the shampoo? Tim, my fiance, calmed a hysterical me down. Many woman had cysts, most women did, it was nothing. Just stay off WebMD. So I took a deep breath and made an appointment with my general practitioner. She suggested an ultrasound but the hospital had no room until the next week so I just waited until I returned from my trip. And I forgot about it.
Until I couldn’t. My doctor appointment, scheduled for the day after my return, was supposed to be a simple ultrasound. But it turned into a mammogram, then a biopsy, then some weird metal shit to identify the spot, then another mammogram and a lot of hmmming and hawwing of doctors. Why is everyone being so vague with their answers? I’m 35 for Chrissakes. Just tell me nothing’s wrong. I’m getting married in less than a month, we moved into a new condo while I was in Africa. I need to unpack. I need to get back to the office and get my wedding dress steamed.
I don’t have time for this shit.
That was a Friday. The following Tuesday I got a call. I had cancer, possibly stage 2 or 3 (it ended up being stage 2b). I had a doctor’s appointment the next Monday when the full pathology report would be ready. November 12th, that was the date.
My boss called my sister, told her to come get me. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t stop crying. Then suddenly I did. Melanoma was cancer right? I’d go in, they’d cut it out, I’d be fine.
It’s a little more complicated than that.
I’m just starting this process. And I’m just starting to process this process. In the 16 days since, I have been to a breast surgeon, a plastic surgeon, a fertility doctor (gotta freeze them eggs!) a health food store, a holistic doctor, and watched countless videos on hair loss, mastectomies and reconstruction. I have heaving sobbed, I have laughed out loud. I have felt powerful and weak. I have felt surrounded by overwhelming love and I have felt so alone.
I don’t know that I have a purpose for keeping this blog, I am not sure yet I’ll even share it. I’m learning very quickly though that I’m not always the one that is in charge, that decides, that knows where this is going. But I’ll be damned if i don’t learn something from the journey.