On the way home from the appointment, I text my husband telling him the doctor has ordered a test. He responds immediately and voices his concerns. Although I can't hear the inflection in his words, I can read he's worried. I reassure him and try to sound upbeat. As I drive home, I feel numb. I wasn't expecting this.
When my husband arrives home from work, he instantly comes to me and gives me a big bear hug. As he smothers me, he begins to cry. I pull away from him so I can see his face. I ask why he's crying and he tells me he doesn't want to lose me. I wasn't expecting his reaction but I understood it. It felt like we were beginning at the beginning again. We'd already been here and done that with the first round of cancer. Neither of us wanted to be there again.
When the doctor's office called to confirm the appointment, the scheduler said they wanted to get me in quickly. I was surprised when she asked if I'd be okay to have the ultrasound performed the following day. I was glad it was going to be done so soon and that way I wouldn't have to spend days worrying. I didn't sleep well that night. I tossed and turned wondering what I'd do if the test revealed the cancer had returned.
As I drove to the appointment, I tried not to think about the numerous trips I'd made to hospitals, labs, or doctor's offices over the past 2 years. When I pulled up to the outpatient clinic, I was overcome with emotion. I could feel the pressure building. It felt like I had a volcano brewing inside me. All of a sudden, tears came spewing forth and they did not stop. Waves of grief overtook me. I felt so out of control. I didn't know how I'd be able to face another diagnosis of cancer. It had taken over 2 years to get past the first diagnosis. I just had gotten to a point of feeling like my life was returning to normal again. But here I was again at the same location where it all began. I cried a few more minutes and then decided it was time to suck it up. My appointment was at 11:15 a.m. I looked at my watch and saw I only had a few more minutes. I worked hard to regain my composure and when I felt ready, I made myself get out of the car and go inside.
I only had to wait a few minutes before being called back. I was thankful I didn't have to wait long. A volunteer took me to the dressing area and I was told to undress from the waist up. She handed me a gown and told me to put it on with the ties in the back. I looked at her and said, "Are you sure?" I could tell she was new when she said adamantly, "Yes, please put it on with the ties in the back." I knew every doctor or technician previously had asked for the gowns to be tied in the front for easy access to the chest, but I did as I was told. After my gown was on, the volunteer helped me put my belongings in a locker. We sat in the waiting area together and chatted. As I talked with her, I found out she'd just been diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer the week before. As I listened, I could hear the trepidation in her voice. She explained she'd hoped for a lumpectomy but her doctors said it wasn't an option. She'd have to have a mastectomy. My heart went out to her and I asked if she'd had time to process it yet. She said she hadn't and I advised her to really take some time to do that. I shared a little about my experience and her countenance seemed to improve slightly.
|The diagnosis on my ultrasound order
I was told I'd know the results in 3 to 4 days. I'm hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. I can't tell you how much fear and dread came over me when I was told by the breast surgeon she'd found a suspicious area. Instantly, I was transported to that fateful day in June 2014 when my cancer was first discovered. At that point, I felt like my life was over and I'd been handed a death sentence. Now, after having lived a little over 2 years since that date, I know that feeling wasn't necessarily true. I do wonder how long a fear of recurrence will have power over me. Will it totally disappear after I reach the miraculous 5 year mark or will it haunt me the rest of my days? I have a feeling I'll always be looking over my shoulder to see if cancer is lurking somewhere deep in the shadows but hopefully, if it is, it won't catch up to me again anytime in the future. I'm trying my best to be optimistic. When and if I ever have to face a recurrence again, I'll deal with it then. I don't want to waste any more time today thinking about it.