“I’m so sorry to tell you this Dawn, but you have breast cancer.” It was quiet in the doctor’s office while it sunk in. My husband and I just stared at each other and held hands. When I cried Keray took over and asked the doctor questions. After awhile the doctor just raised his hand and said, “let her cry.” My sweet man was trying to fix things out of his control. When he teared up, I took over.”What are my choices exactly?”
Next step, copious amounts of appointments. Then how do I break it to our children?…and when? Everyone was going to be together for Easter weekend so we headed to the beach with a blanket and dogs in tow. Everyone dealt with the news in their own way. I kept saying, “I’m sure it will be ok.” Jade was quiet and held her head. Austin our youngest and only boy rallied us up for a family picture after awhile. I think he sensed impermanence and instinctively wanted to capture moments. That or he simply knew I coveted family pictures. Shae didn’t know how to be, there is no manual. Leah pulled out her yellow ukulele and made me sing, badly. Keray quietly supported me with a hug and we laid on the blankets, all 6 of us in our own heads together. Kimber foraged for food scraps close by. Hard to know what to do when you really don’t know what is going to happen. How do you tell friends, my sisters and brother and especially my elderly mother? She said, “I’m sure it will be ok.” The rest of the family? My sisters handled telling them thankfully and I am so grateful. The telling was the hardest part for me.
We listened to the doctors along the way. I researched incessantly. Not the greatest idea but necessary to a point to feel empowered.”The margin was clear but there was a micro tumor in one of the two lymph-nodes removed,” I was told. Along the way I switched oncologists, but in the end I followed a good amount of what they recommended. X-rays, blood tests,scans, partial mastectomy – not a lumpectomy – my surgeon kept correcting me. 25 rounds of radiation. 20 drives to Abbotsford Cancer clinic alone for radiation. “No I’m fine I insisted, I can drive by myself, It’s not physically effecting me.” Right! I looked the same to me, just a little weight loss, all of my hair in tact. …but I was tired not only physically but emotionally and the burn was coming. You can’t always see it when you are in it. Truth. “I don’t want to take you away from work etc.” I felt guilty taking up people’s valuable time and I felt like a damn baby telling people it was really lonely and scary going by myself. Oh the thoughts that take over. I felt weak admitting that out loud….Take my advice, take the damn company!!! People want to help and many don’t know how to,so lead them. Next tamoxifen then letrozole – an estrogen inhibitor – I’m half way there only 2.5 more years left on the chemo drug (the term chemo also means a mix of drugs in layman terms) that blocks estrogen so any lingering tumors or cancer cells hungry for it, are slowed down. There is going to be one hell of a party summer of 2018.
I lived in a fog of fear for 2 years after treatment. Terrified that “it” would come back. The feelings that come out are similar to grieving. I cried for “no apparent reason” sometimes, and felt deeply alone before my oncologist said “you do realize you have PTS don’t you?” The letrozole often messes with your emotions not to mention the achey bones that exhaust you – in my case anyway. I hadn’t accounted for that…whoops, how would I know?
The amazing gift in this whole scenario is that I was forced to breathe deeper, slow down and surround myself with more calm light atmospheres, healthy real people, as little drama as possible, voila! Not always possible in this bright light we call life, but that’s what I strive for. If I’m around heavy, difficult energy I literally get tense, hot and I long to bolt. I close up. When I can’t bolt, I visulize being home in my pj’s and before long I’m smiling. I am not living in fear anymore. If it comes back, that may be another story, but I will not dampen my life now. I know we all will die one day and I’m finally living like there is no tomorrow…just in case;) It feels fantastic and I am so incredibly incredibly grateful to my husband for being able taking me around the globe via his career and hard work, and for being so quietly solid. To the family and friends who took the time to understand and have stuck beside me and loved me when I wasn’t solid. Real face to face time with family and friends is all that matters. We all know that, hear that, feel that, but always think we have more time than we do.
I had to tweak myself, my actions and reactions, lifestyle and I’m much better for it and much much happier. It was a knock on the head – it was a gift to start living like I longed to inside but didn’t know how. I realize I have no control over most things so I really try to say “meh” while still feeling and caring deeply. I’m clumsy at it sometimes. I’m a work in progress like you are. You know the old pick your battles adage, I don’t even like to say that anymore. If we are expecting a “battle”, we will get one. So sometimes when things are tough, how about just letting our soul sing when it needs to, as it needs to. Speak up little one, then let it go. Be kind, go outside and have some fun. We’ll get it right sometimes and other times…meh.