February 7, 2002

The room is dark, a desk divides us. He sits, looking down upon me. “You have to stop crying and focus,” he exhorts. I feel the tissue against my face. Where it should be soft, a comfort, it is rough against my already-chaffed skin. Too many tears have fallen. I can’t cry and focus at the same time? I am confused. I can think of nothing but his admonishment, and I cease to hear his words. I know I must capture this information, but I can’t. I shouldn’t be crying?

Doesn’t he know I’m going to die?


Pro Choice & Pro Life

Cancer coach and blogger Elyn Jacobs comments, “Yesterday I spoke with a woman with stage 1, wanted to treat her cancer naturally, opted out of surgery.” She goes on to talk about the challenge of finding a doctor who could HEAR and respond to the needs of the patient, rather than play their own scripts about treatment expectations.

Elyn’s comment reminded me of a the day when I had a new support group member. This lovely, older woman was the only “newbie” that afternoon, amongst a group of in-treatment and post-treatment women. When it was her turn to share, the woman told us that she had a lump. It had been there for about four years. Moreover, she had lost a mother and sister to breast cancer.

To say the other women in the group went on the attack would be an understatement. They were beside themselves, with responses that ranged from “How could you?” to “I’ll go with you….” It was all I could to fend them off. As facilitator, it was my job to honor this woman’s choice, even if her choice was not life.


The Arts of Doctoring and Patient-ing

“You’ll need to stop crying and start doing something. This is serious.”

THAT was my introduction to cancer. It was about 48 hours after my diagnosis and I was in the doctor’s office to schedule surgery. In the post-diagnostic haze I actually thought to have a lumpectomy with this man. The haze lifted the next morning, and when I realized that I could cry and act I cancelled my appointment and found another doctor. More


A fellow blogger at The Day I Found Out got me thinking recently. Their site (very moving, btw…check it out!) focuses on first person videos of survivors and loved ones telling the stories of their diagnoses; stories that are sad, sweet, and uplifting all at once. My browsing there led me to think about my own D-Day.

The truth is, the actual day of my diagnosis is part of a bigger picture, which includes the days I didn’t find out. The road to diagnosis was a long one, much longer that it needed to be. It began with my first “baseline” mammogram ordered by my internist in November 2001. I don’t know what made her order the test, and I’m not sure she does either. Instinct? Prophecy? It’s not in my nature to wonder why, but rather to be grateful that she did! More

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