I got a call – it was the receptionist at my doctor’s office. She told me my doctor needed to see me right away. I knew it wasn’t good; the biopsy was just a few days ago, and the follow-up appointment wasn’t for another week.
“Will you come with me?” I asked my sister.
We got in the car and all I can tell you is that I was kind of numb. My sister didn’t know what to say, so we sat in silence. At the stoplights I looked around at the trees, the cars – everyday objects suddenly felt surreal.
“Please take a seat,” She said.
Dr. Morris was such a sweet woman: soft eyes, a sparkling smile, and an almost overbearing intelligence, but I felt safe with her.
She looked serious, “The results from the lab came back.” Pause. “They found cancer.”
The words echoed in my head as I stared blankly. I didn’t feel much at that moment – the real pain would come later.
“So now what?” I asked.
She was taken aback, “Well, let’s talk about treatment.”
Treatment, the word still tastes sour… “We caught the tumor early, thank God.”
I instantly had a flashback of my sister coming out of the shower, “Do you check your breasts for lumps?”
“No, not really.” I said, I thought it was a funny question but I checked later that day, and I found one.
“But because it may have spread,” continued Morris, “I’m going to recommend Local Radiation Therapy.”
Radiation Therapy. All I can remember is being tired, so tired… I couldn’t get an appetite, and when I did it was hard to swallow. My breasts were sore, and the skin was peeling. My sister was doing her best in helping me stay positive.
“Is it worth having boobs?” She joked.
I looked down. “Yes,” it hurt to laugh, “but why are they are punishing me?” I sighed deeply. “I eat healthy, I do yoga everyday…”
As if I could rationalize the pain away. My sister brought my bowl of cereal and sat down with hers.
“God works in mysterious ways.” She said.
“Oh, don’t give me that,” I rebuked, “Your God gives me breast cancer and I have to deal with it because he’s a mystery?”
“He’s not a he,” she replied.
“Whatever, you can shove that mystery up your ass.” I was surprised I had the energy to get angry.
“Come on Angy,” she paused in thought, “Don’t yoga people believe in karma?” She was right, but I was in no mood for this discussion. We ate in silence.
Weeks went by but I couldn’t keep track; one day was enough of a schedule. My emotions were out of whack, and sometimes it felt like everything was piling up. On top of the mental struggle I was racking up medical bills. Who was going to pay what my insurance didn’t cover? My dad told me not to worry. That was the hardest part actually, telling my parents. My sister and I were going to school in New York so I had to make the call home: My mother picked up and we bawled our eyes out. After that she always called to see how I was doing. She worried a lot which I’m very thankful for, but it made me feel like a child. In some ways I was helpless, hopeless, and when I needed support they came to my rescue. That’s something I learned from cancer – you never know how strong of a support system your family is until you absolutely need them, and you never know how strong you are until being strong is your only option.
Edited by Natalia-Marie Fiorio