OHBD 2015

OHBD 2015

Sunday, December 21, 2014

You Have Cancer

Those words are so powerful.  It has taken me 10 years to be able to write them down.  I feel ready to share now in hopes it can help others who hear them or fear them.  I realized as I thought about what to share, this will likely take me a few posts.  This is Day One.

I remember the day I heard the words like it was yesterday.  I remember distinct details which seem burned into my brain.  Generally, I have trouble remembering specifics of a few days ago if I don’t write them down.

We lived in Chicago.  I was sitting at my cubicle desk enjoying the sunshine and the excitement of a recent promotion and new role.  I got a call from my doctor to come in for my test results from a recent relatively routine procedure.  I felt they had done it in part to humor me since they knew I like to get concrete information rather than probabilities whenever possible.  I told my husband Michael I would need to stop by the office on my way home so would be a little later.  He immediately sensed something was amiss asking, “Why do you have to come in?  It can’t be good news.”  I laughed and told him, “You worry too much.  I am sure it is nothing serious.” 

I didn’t give it much more mind share as I wrapped up my day and drove the few minutes to the medical building.  I waited until the doctor could see me.  When we were in the examining room, he told me those simple words.  “You have cancer.”  I can't recall much about what else he said. It felt like airplanes were landing in my head.  I saw his mouth moving but could not hang on to the words as they danced around my consciousness without any order.  I was a healthy 37 year old with two young boys – how could I have cancer?  I had never even heard of this type before: cancer of the uterine lining. 

I nodded as he explained things which I couldn’t take in and walked numbly to my car.  My whole world had shifted and turned upside down in the span of minutes.  I no longer saw the sunshine or even what was happening around me.  I called Michael as I started to drive.  I felt tears freely flowing down my cheeks as I told him.  I could hear the devastation in his voice and didn’t know what more to say.  I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around what I had just heard.  Surely this was a nightmare and I would wake soon.

Instinctively, I called a friend who was a breast cancer survivor and had lost her younger sister to the same disease when we worked together.  She was a no nonsense high powered executive.  She told me. “You have to own getting yourself the best care.”  She offered to have any doctors I considered thoroughly checked out and told me she was with me.  I clung to her words and confidence like a life raft in the middle of a choppy ocean.

When I approached my home, panic and helplessness began to wash over me.  What was I going to do?  How was this even possible?  I saw my husband sitting outside the house on our front steps – tears streaking his handsome face.  His look mirrored all that was running through my head.  It was almost too much to bear.  We hugged and cried – neither of us knew the right words for what we were facing.  Our boys were seven and three.  We went through the motions of a normal evening until they were in bed. 

I then slowly descended the stairs to our basement and lowered myself to the middle of the floor.  I let the sobs and fear just roll through my body like the waves of the ocean - -ebbing and flowing continuously.   Michael came down to check on me.  Again I saw my worst fears reflected in his eyes.  I asked him something I knew I needed, “You need to act like everything is normal.  I can’t do this if every time I look at you I see you expecting the worst.  I really need you to do this for me.”   

Now I appreciate what an impossible request this was but at the time it was so important to me.  I was gearing up for a fight and I needed my best friend and life partner to be his confident self.  I don’t panic about much and wanted to attack this like I would any other complex challenge.  I gave myself the one evening to let the most unproductive emotions and thoughts take center stage.  And I knew in the morning, I would get to the business of making a plan to ensure I was there for my family. 

Damian 3 and Dimitri 7 -- 2004

Me and the boys hanging out in our basement --2004


  1. Big hugs. It's so good that you feel ready to talk about this. Let it out, keep talking. (Sitting in Starbucks reading this with tears in my eyes) Brian Xx

  2. Praise God. Overcomer. Thank you for sharing! Greater joy!

  3. I'm glad you told your story. It is one of such hope, eventual joy and strength. God bless xx