day two

On Friday, the day after the diagnosis, I woke up sad and scared. The weather in Honolulu had been dismal for a few days and the rain only added to my dread.  I decided I would try to take Katie shopping in the morning, since our earlier outing had been cancelled.  I wasn’t looking forward to it.  I dreaded my meeting with Dr. Yee, the surgeon in charge of my case, but I feared being late for it. I knew things needed to be done in a hurry.

I left with Katie around nine, and even though things stayed damp, I slowly realized that I was glad we went.  We window-shopped and bought chocolates and cocoa and sat under an umbrella in the rain.  We had a serious, sometimes uncomfortable heart-to-heart discussion about what was to come and some of her concerns.  In her teen years, Katie has been a joy to me.  We’ve been very close.  She jealously guards her time with me.  I’m not sure if anything I said comforted her in any way, but I knew I had to be honest with her.

I was almost late to the appointment anyway.  I thought I left at a reasonable time, but traffic was at a standstill on the freeway, I still had errands to run and I had to get home to pick up Ryan. Then, I was nearly home when I noticed my gas gauge was on “empty.”

I was stressed now; I had been monitoring the time so closely.  What happened?  I’m never late.  I am compulsively early for every appointment. And here I was, about to be late to the most important meeting of my whole life.

Fortunately, Ryan and I managed to get there with a few minutes to spare.  I was led into a room with a nurse and she told me that I was scheduled for two more tests on Tuesday; a CT scan and a bone scan.  She told me a few things about Dr. Yee, and then she showed me a PowerPoint presentation about breast surgery and post-operative care.

Nothing could prepare me for the pictures I saw during the PowerPoint.  It started off with a lot of hopeful, encouraging information.  I learned what I would need to do after the operation, about statistics, and about treatment.  I was convinced for a few minutes that it might even be easy. But then the pictures reminded me of why I was there.  I was probably going to lose a breast.

Dr. Yee came in.  She came in with a lot of paperwork, all describing my condition.  Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.  Possibly at stage two, since there were signs that the cancer had invaded my lymph nodes.  I would, indeed, need a mastectomy.  I would be able, at some point well after my recovery, to opt for reconstruction, involving another surgical procedure.  In the meantime, I would be provided with padded garments.  All was covered under Kaiser insurance. (Ryan was impressed that there was such a thing as a prescription for Neiman Marcus.) I was also scheduled for genetic testing to determine if I have the BRCA gene, which would be one of the few reasons to fear the cancer spreading to the other side.

After all that, oddly, things felt better.  I had information.  Things were scheduled.  I knew what needed to be done.

Dr. Yee is wonderful.  Ryan especially appreciated the time she took to answer every question.  And to me, she seemed confident and knowledgeable.  I feel I’m in good hands.

That doesn’t stop the fear, though.

Sometimes I feel like this will be just another story to tell.  This is no big deal, I say to myself.  You’ll be out of the hospital the day after the surgery. But then the fear creeps in, quietly, and I’m paralyzed.

I feel so many emotions over the course of a day that it scares me.  This weekend was full of those moments.  It otherwise felt like a normal weekend. We had the typical weekend things to do. And I realized that life is not going to stop.  I have no time to be afraid, or to curl into a ball and cry, because I still have things to do.

I was especially afraid of Tuesday’s tests.

5 thoughts on “day two

  1. First off, I just want to say, I’m a huge fan of Popspotting. I am pray for you and your family at this time. I know in my heart that everything will be fine. I wish I could take away your cancer and fear, but I can’t. The best thing I can do is read and support you through your blog. You are a strong and beautiful woman and I know you can beat this! Be strong, if not for you, then for Katie. Much aloha and love.

  2. Praying from Maryland Jen. Thanks for continuing to share your story. It helps to know how to continue praying for you and the family. Stay strong.

  3. Jen,
    First I want to say how I admire you! Beside just those close friends and family you are sharing this with friends and others you have never met. But through that I know you will inspire others and help others as well as get support as well

    Even though I have never met you or your family on person you have offered my family advice on our many trips to the island! I listened to you faithfully on the transmission. And I feel like I have watched you kids grow! When you first made your announcement my heart went out to you as a woman but then again as a mother. I can only imagine what that feels like to here this news and think of your children! I can not believe Katie Is a teenager! Wow but at the same time I am so happy to hear you have that strong support and you were able to talk to her.
    Last year I had a friend with a very similar diagnosis as you. She opted for a double mastectomy just to be sure. And in doing so ended not have to do any other chemo or radiation. Just as she got her clean bill of health her sister was then diagnosed. She was not as lucky as she needed some chemo. But now both of them are doing great! I chop up to thier great attitudes! So my point is keep it up! Cry when you need to but then wipe the tears and move on! You have lots of people pulling for you! And keep reaching out! I love the idea of your blog!

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