u2bnpc shared an experience
Oh No (Diagnosed): I am a survivor; I wear pink and purple, and life is good.
I received my “death sentence” on September 11, 2007. My yearly mammogram had indicated nothing remarkable; however, a very alert technician mentioned that something just didn’t look right and ask me to provide her with a copy of a mammogram from a year ago. About a week later, I was asked to come in to the office for a biopsy. Being the coward I am when it comes to needles, my general practioner gave me a script that would relax me during the procedure.
When I walked into the cancer center where the biopsy would be performed, I entered a medical facility that was a real shocker to me. The office not only had comfortable chairs, informational material on all the tables along with women’s magazines and a pleasant décor, it had real people! I was very pleasantly shocked to be greeted by the receptionist by my first name, offered a cup of coffee and a cookie! Of course I chose the chocolate cookie.
I took the tablet my phyician had prescribed and settled in the waiting room for what I thought would be a long wait. The technician called me in exactly 4 minutes, by my first name, and escorted me to the changing room. Yet another shock – it was a comfortable room with lamps instead of the usual glaring light, soft wing backed chairs and decorated in shabby chic! The gown I was given was pink and actually wrapped around my whole body! I was escorted into another room and two very friendly ladies helped me onto the table, all the while providing comforting and encouraging words about the procedure that was about to be done. The next thing I knew, they were trying to wake me up; I had slept through the entire biopsy! After I was dressed to leave, I was informed I would be called if there was a problem.
Two days later, I received a call from an overly cheerful receptionist from my general practioner’s office and advised my doctor wanted to see me in two days. I asked her why and the reply was she did not know. I didn’t “get it” at first and went about my usual activities. I did “get it” a few hours later when I realized that doctors don’t want to see you just because they want some to chat with, so I called the receptionist back and asked again why I was being summoned. She very cheerfully told me she did not know why he wanted to see me. I asked her if it had anything to do with the recent biopsy and she again stated, in her bubbly fashion, she did not know why, so I insisted she find out and I was informed (again very cheerfully!) she was not allowed to tell me and I would have to wait and see the doctor. In that moment I was no longer a nice patient. I demanded to speak with the doctor, but of course he was not in the office. Then, I demanded to talk with the Office Manager. After what seemed like hours, the receptionist came back to the phone and cheerfully informed me the doctor would see me at 8:00 am the following morning. Her bubbly persona was enough to make me want to send an electric current through the phone to zap her! (Yea, yea I know it was not her fault.)
I worried for several hours, pacing from one room to another, convincing myself that I had cancer and I was going to die in 5 minutes. So I did what any normal, red blooded, intelligent woman would do under the circumstances – I ate a whole quart of Chocolate Moose Tracks ice cream. Of course, all that accomplished was to make me very uncomfortable. I then decided that if I went to sleep I would not have to think about it. After taking a hot shower, convinced it would be my last, I lavished my body with the best body moisturizer I had and climbed into bed expecting to fall immediately asleep. Needless to say, I did not sleep a wink and by 2:00 am I placed a call to my good friend. This wonderful person listened, comforted and prayed with me. It was 4:30 am before I was able to calm down to the point where I was just worried instead of being a crazy lunatic!
At 8:00 am sharp, I was in my doctor’s office and received what I perceived to be my death sentence. I had breast cancer. I politely asked why he had done this to me, and proceeded to tell him how my life had ceased to exist with the phone call from his pollyana receptionist, and how I had managed to survive until the following morning. He asked how I would like to have my situation handled and I told him, step by step how my “situation” should have been handled. I asked him what was next and how would I be able to wait another 2 weeks to a month to be referred to a cancer doctor. He told me I had an appointment in 30 minutes with a doctor at the Cancer Center. This caring and gentle man had indeed heard what I had said and has since implemented my suggestions. It is comforting to know that no other man or woman will have to experience the horrible “wait” that I did.
Thirty minutes later, I was in the office of Dr. Elizabeth DuPont who treated me as if I were a normal person who just happened to have cancer and we would work on this problem together. She spent as much time with me as I needed, showed me before and after pictures, let me touch and feel” the differences between gel and saline implants and in general, helped me realize I had breast cancer and it was not a death and explained my options. Since my Grandmother, Mother and Sister had had breast cancer, my option was clear to me – double mastectomy. The doctor would not accept my answer then, and told me to go home, think about it, and call her back in two days with my decision. For me the decision was already made, but I did indeed call her back to reiterate my decision, double mastectomy.
Being the strong independent person I was, or thought I was, I decided not to tell anyone and made arrangements with a photographer to have my photo taken. I was convinced I would never look normal again and wanted to remember me as I was. Soon after making that heroic decision I decided this was not the way to go, cancer was going to be a part of my life, so I might as well share it with my friends and family. And, I discovered I had a much stronger support network than I could ever have imagined!
After the surgery, my friends took turns taking care of me. They came from various places in the country, and those who could not handle cancer, left gifts on my doorstep and send cards of encouragement. Neighbors drove me to medical appointments, and made sure I had a cooked dinner, complete with dessert. My sister, who lives several states away from me, called on a regular basis, to offer encouragement.
My breast reconstruction followed soon after and was very uneventful (I am beginning to like “uneventful”) and before I realized it my scars faded to a very fine line, almost undectable. My emotional cancer scars have healed also.
Cancer today is no longer frightening to me. It is just something that needs to be dealt with and the sooner the better. The people who matter the most to me no longer see me as a woman with cancer. Instead I am viewed as a woman, with good and some less than good qualities, but I am no longer seen as a victim with cancer nor do I feel like one. I only wish I had known then that there were people who would have listened to my fears and concerns when I received my diagnosis. Knowing what I know now about cancer and cancer treatment, would have made all the difference.
I am a survivor; I wear pink and purple, and life is good.