I woke up this morning, still reeling. There is no way really to explain, except to say I felt like I’d been kicked repeatedly in the stomach. Wait. Was that just a terrible dream? Am I still dreaming? NO 😦 the enormity of the news was real. This cancer is now PART of my life. I got on the phone. There were people who had to know. First on my list, was my mom. But for some reason, my fingers couldn’t dial her number. This is NO comment about my mom, because if you have the pleasure of knowing her, you will agree that she is one VERY strong lady, one TOUGH cookie. She’s the kind of woman that all of us aspire to be. Graceful in the face of disaster, faithful in every circumstance, a fearless Christ follower, a cancer survivor..and she’s MY mom. So my hesitance wasn’t just about her per se. It was about knowing her tender mother’s heart and how terrible it will feel to her that her little girl is in crisis. As a mother myself, this I can emphatically tell you. I can personally take just about any hard knock, but nothing is more painful than watching my children hurt. So knowing the depth of how that feels to me, I couldn’t bring myself to inflict pain in her life.
I summoned up my courage and dialed her number…BUSY! Phew. I’ll try her back later. Then I called my big sisters, my angels and you can imagine the wave of emotions this triggered for all of us. Of course, they both knew this was a possibility. Marcia was with me at the biopsy and I casually told Joan a few weeks ago. But truthfully, since I thought it was nothing, I’m sure they did too. I can’t actually recall how I told them the devastating update. I can’t remember what was said, I was in such a cloud. I can only recall that there were many, many tears. Then, thankfully, we were quickly able to make a plan to meet up. Joan was due to be in OC that day for work, Marcia and I already had plans and miraculously we were able to pull together a spontaneous get together. I really needed my sisters. The only detail left was to reach my mom, so we could all meet up at her house.
Next, I contacted my friend Holly, who is like a sister to me. She’s away visiting her daughter in Austin. I had texted her the night before, but the time difference meant she didn’t receive word until early the next morning. Thank God for FaceTime. Seeing each other face to face was almost as good as her being here. Few words were spoken…we just cried in disbelief.
Next, I sprung into action! I got on the phone to call the doctors recommended by my general practitioner. When you have cancer, you see both a surgeon and an oncologist. (Who knew? Certainly not me!) My GP Brandi gave me her recommendations for an oncologist, but hmmm, how do I find a surgeon. Then it came to me…two of my prayer partners, Kim and Janet both rave about their breast specialist. Maybe she’s an option! Emboldened, I placed a call to Dr. Curcio, and to my great relief, I was able to get an appointment with her Tuesday of the next week. Ok, surgeon, √. Now for the oncologist. I ended up making an appointment with Dr. Ein-Gal who, thankfully is in the same group, Breastlink, as my surgeon Dr. Curcio. Later, I would learn that working within one practice is a life-saver. More on that later!
Like the wind, I was out the door, picking up my records, dropping them off at my Breastlink, filling out the paperwork, wham bam, gettin’ this ball rollin. Then on to meet my sisters and my mom (who I finally did reach and took the news like the compassionate, strong, amazing champ that she is). Let’s go, let’s run, let’s jam, and then we’ll go sit on the beach and digest all of this. Plan for the day, √ .
Meanwhile, my sweet husband was, of course, amazing: strong, unwavering, faithful, and loving. I’m sad to say that that morning, my independent spirit was on overdrive and I took off like a tornado to seize my day. Greg’s response to me? He sweetly gave me complete latitude to handle things in my own way. A big hug and a kiss and off I went!
Later that day when my sisters and Mom and I settled in together to sort things out under the sunshine and cool breezes of Salt Creek Beach, I was able to arrive at a place of peace…my cancer would undoubtedly be like my moms. It was going to be hard, but I would have the surgery, get rid of the cancer and move on.
Then my mom offered a piece of advice that I will forever thank her for. She gently reminded me that I am not the only one who is going through this crisis.
“Sandy, don’t forget. Greg is going through this pain as much as you are, maybe more so. You’re the one who has the disease. He’s the one who’s standing by watching his wife in crisis.”
Mom, you’ve given me some great pearls of wisdom throughout my life…this one was probably the greatest piece of advice ever.
At that moment, I realized how right you were and immediately recalibrated. Unwavering, we will fight this battle together as one; the way it should be. As always, thank you Mom.