Sara Brown | Jan 20, 2021

“You have breast cancer.”  Those are the words that kicked off my summer of 2020.  It all started one morning in June.  The kids had just finished up school and we were all ready to begin enjoying the nice weather.  I freely admit that I didn’t do regular self assessment on my breasts, sure every once and a while I did. But on a consistent basis, nope. It wasn’t a priority or something that I felt I needed to do all the time.  And on that morning, I don’t know what made me have a feel around and see what was going on. But I am glad that I did, even if it did really change my life for the next foreseeable future.

I felt a lump on the lower portion of my breast. I didn’t freak out immediately but I moved over to my right side to see if that side felt the same.  It didn’t. So I probed a bit more to really make sure that I was feeling what I was feeling.  It felt mountainous under my small probing fingers, hoping against all hope that I was mistaken. This wasn’t really happening, not to me.  Boy, was I wrong. It took me a few hours to really say it out loud to my husband what I felt.  It felt like if I didn’t say it out loud then it wasn’t really happening.  I called my doctors office to set up an appointment for them to check me out as well.  I was sent for a mammogram and an ultrasound to have a better look at the lump.  And then the waiting. I received a call to come in and do a core biopsy.  Then more waiting.  How to describe the waiting?  Excruciating, unbearable, tortuous come to mind.

When I got the call, I didn’t know what to do or what to say, or even how to feel.  I just asked about what I needed to do from here.  I couldn’t say the word out loud yet. I talked in terms appointments and schedules without ever having to say the word … cancer. 

 Every appointment, every specialist, every treatment, everything that I would be doing to beat cancer, I would be doing alone. When the surgeon was talking to me about either having a lumpectomy or mastectomy, I was alone.  When the surgeon thought that I was going overboard by having a mastectomy, I was alone. When I woke up from surgery with a part of my body having been cut off, I was alone.  When my oncologist told me that my margins were not clear, the cancer had metastasized in some lymph nodes, and they removed a part of my pectoral muscle, I was alone.  When my oncologist explained that I would be having 16 weeks of chemotherapy and then 20 rounds of radiation, I was alone.  Every time I had chemotherapy, I was alone. I haven’t started radiation yet but I will be alone for that as well.

So the next time that you get mad or frustrated or fed up that you’re not able to go to a restaurant, or a movie or hang out at a party, remember that there are people out there that are going through something life changing.  Something that is incredibly scary, overwhelming and with so many unknown factors.  Let us start this year differently by respecting each other and understanding that during a pandemic we need to think about humanity as a whole not just as individuals.  Show more patience. Show more compassion. Show more empathy.  We as humans are in this life together and we need to work together, no matter where you come from, to make this life better for everyone, not just some.

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