On Monday afternoon, the 11th of June, a radiologist phoned me from Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Dr. Whuen [not her real name], along with a surgeon and one or two assistants, had performed a biopsy on my left breast the previous Friday morning. I was expecting her call. I was also expecting good news.
Perhaps bigger alarms would have sounded at her first words -- "Is this a good time to talk." -- if my family wasn't inclined to start perfectly normal phone conversations just that way. I am sure I said something like "Of course" or "Couldn't be better."
Her next words, however, brought everything to a halt while I got my husband on the phone with me: "Your biopsy did show the presence of cancer."
This outcome was against the strong odds I been trusting.
Telling her that I was making notes but was struggling and might need to have her repeat things, we launched into one of the more distressing conversations of my life.
By the time we got off the phone, she'd made it very clear that, as far as she was concerned, I would be having breast surgery. In fact, some of the possible outcomes she covered had me believing it was time to get my affairs in order.
At the risk of spoiling the suspense – or actually, because suspense is uncalled for and unfair, I will jump ahead here and tell you that within 24 hours, I understood clearly that my life is not in danger. Nevertheless, it’s been a bit rocky around here lately.
Soon it will be a month since I got my diagnosis. It's been a hard month and not just because of cancer -- or not just because of my cancer.
But I've had a lot to study, much to think about. I've learned quite a bit about cancer, though mostly about breast cancer. And I've discovered some new things about myself.
Some of these things I believe are worth sharing.
So, despite some subtle signals from a dear friend or two that they'd like me to stop using the C word already, I'm going to be talking and I'm going to be listening. If you can listen or you'd like to talk, join me.