No news is good news…right?

Four Days.  I was going to have to wait up to four days for my results.  No news is good news, right?  I tried not to think about it.  It was difficult, but I had to study for my classes.  I had to try to accomplish a few things around the house.  I spent two days packed with ice and my boob was now sporting the most intense bruise I had ever seen.  Imagine the worst black eye you’ve ever seen, my chest looked worse.  I took a picture.  I couldn’t believe it and never wanted to forget it. 

The biopsy had been on Monday and it was now Wednesday morning, February 4.  I was looking forward to a quiet morning after dropping 4 boys off for school, and getting the little one down for a nap leaving me with one toddler.  After cleaning up the breakfast dishes I began to gather up a few things for us to work on.  We were just beginning to string large beads on a shoestring when the phone rang.  I checked the caller ID and saw that it was my family doctor’s number.  I wish I never would have picked up the phone that day.

“Hello”, I said.

“Hi, is this Christina?”


“This is your doctor’s office and we would like you to come in to discuss the results of your biopsy today”.

“Have they come back already?” 

“Yes and we would like for you to come in to talk to your doctor about them”.

“Is it possible just to tell me over the phone?”

“No, we really need for you to come in.”

“Why?  Why can’t you just tell me.  I would rather you just tell me over the phone.  You know I run a daycare and I don’t want to bring kids with me if it is bad news.  Can you just tell me if it is bad news?  Just say either bad or good”.

“I’m sorry, we can’t offer that information over the phone.  Can you come in around 4pm?”

“No, I cannot.  I will have a pile of children with me–that’s after school gets out.”

“Well, could you come around 11am?”

“I have to pick  up 4 boys from preschool at 11:45.  It’s terribly cold outside, I don’t wish to bring anyone out in the cold if I don’t have to, could you tell me anything?”

“How about you come over right now and we’ll squeeze you in.  We’ll finish and you’ll still have time to pick up the boys.”

“Fine, I’ll be there shortly”.

I called my mother-in-law to see if she would come along for the ride.  I was hoping that she could help me by just staying in the car with it running while I ran in to get the piece of paper.  She agreed, but as I was just about to leave, she called back and said she would prefer coming over to my house and staying with the kids.  She had fallen on the ice the day before and was not getting around to well.  Thankfully, she lives two minutes away.  I agreed and we both muttered expressions of disgust over what a big hassle it was just to get some information.

When she arrived, I gave her a few instructions, but for the most part, the infant was sleeping and I decided to take the toddler with since she doesn’t know Gramma Loni very well and I didn’t want to upset her.  I told Loni I would leave straight from the doctor’s office and pick up the boys.  We would be back shortly.  As I drove to the office under the big white water tower, I didn’t have many worries.  I really felt that this was all a mistake.  A false alarm.  There was nothing for me to be worried about and this visit was just one more  hassle to get another co-pay out of me.  I checked into the office, made a mental note of the time, and sat down to read a story to the toddler. 

My name was called after about 5 minutes and we were escorted into a room.  My doctor never showed up.  Instead the nurse practitioner entered the room.  She was cheery and greeted me pleasantly.  I saw that she carried the piece of paper that was going to decide my fate.  I wished I had x-ray goggles on so I could see through to the other side.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know, but I was needing to know that everything was ok.  My stomach was doing flip flops and I knew that whatever verdict was thrown down, I was going to have to contain myself so as not to worry the toddler. 

The practitioner made some chit chat and I was inwardly just wanting her to cut to the chase.  Rip the band-aid off.  So she did, but not in one full swoop.  She peeled the band-aid off slowly.  It’s like being a child and you have a big, gross owie on your knee that your mom wants to take the band aid off so she can soak it in the tub.  She peels it off slowly, one little glue spot at a time and you sit there crying for her to stop.  Don’t do it anymore and you beg her to take a bath with the band aid on.  I never understood that seeing that if you did take a bath with the band-aid, chances were likely that it would fall off on its own. 

I’ve tried very diligently to remember the details that unfolded.  It really is a blur to me.  I remember her leaning in to me and putting her elbows on her knees.  I remember he telling me very softly that the samples came back positive.  “Positive for what”, I asked.  I was playing dumb.  I knew.  I didn’t want to know.  So, I pretended not to know.  Then she said the word I had feared my entire life.  The word that scares the hell out of most individuals.  The word that changes the course of a person’s life forever. 

(rip)          Cancer.

In that split second, that blink of an eye, that breath of air inhaled just micro seconds earlier, I couldn’t tell what was up and what was down.  I remember the room spinning.  I felt as though I were on one of those centrifigal force amusement rides where the floor drops out and you are just sucked to the side walls.  My head dropped into my hands and I began to cry.  “Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God”, I remember saying softly.  My breathing became extremely rapid.  I couldn’t breathe at all in fact, and I was desperately trying to catch my breath.  She gave me kleenex.  She put her hand on my knee.  She told me to slow my breathing down.  “I gasped, I can’t.  I can’t feel my face.  I can’t feel my lips or my nose or my teeth” .  “You’re hyperventilating.  Calm down.”  

Calm down?  Calm down?  I have been told I have breast cancer and I’m supposed to calm down?  Then I remembered my little toddler.  She was quietly reading a book in the corner.  I looked at the woman and I asked her, “How bad is it?  Can you tell?”

(rip)    Well, there is some good news about this particular type of cancer.  It seems to be confined to the milk ducts. 

(rip)    It does not appear to have spread to the lobes yet (the lobes are the sacs where the milk is produced.  The ducts are the tubes which carry the milk from the lobes out). 

“What does that mean…oh God, oh God, oh God…”

(rip)     Well, the best scenario would be that you don’t have cancer, but you do.  The next best scenario would be that you have the type you do.  You should be thankful.”

I should be thankful.  I should be thankful?  Are you kidding me?  I’m not thankful for this.  I can’t believe my ears and I wondered why she was in here instead of my medical doctor.  Where was she and why wasn’t she giving me this news?  Was I now considered out of her league?  I am now property of another doctor?  Did she not want to deal with it?  I couldn’t understand, just a few nights earlier she had hugged me in the hallway as a symbol of solidarity when she saw me bring my daughter in for a check up.  Where was she now?  I had to get out of there.  I had to leave.  NOW!  I took the toddler by the hand, made it a point not to thank this practitioner for her information and I left.  I needed to breathe.  I needed to see the sun.  I needed the cold air on my face.  I needed to go get the boys from school.

I called Jeff in route.  I told him.  He didn’t hear me at first.  I told him again.  His reply, “oh, Jesus, Chris, I’m sooooo sorry”.  Then there was silence.  I began blurting out all the details I could remember.  I hung up with him as I reached the preschool where my son attends and three other boys I care for.  I pulled up to the pick up lane.  I looked at all the happy mommies picking up their kids.  I was trying to choke back sobs and put on my happy face.  I was not longer Christina, I was about to become Tina and I needed to suck it up.  The door opened and out into the blustery day four boys screaming T—iii–nnn—aaa as they came running into my arms.  I bent down to hug all four at once and asked them how there day was at school.  They all began talking at once and we held hands as we crossed to the van dubbed the “schoolbus” for its size.  We came home to join the rest of the crew and relieve my mother-in-law.  

When I came in, I told her.  Her face turned red and the tears came out immediately.  She hugged me for a long time and we cried together.  How can this be happening?  Last year nothing…now this…within a year.  The phone started ringing.  It was the Center for Breast Health.  An appointment had been made with a surgeon to discuss the report, give me more information,  and discuss options.  Options.  My options.  What were my options? The appointment was for February 24.  I put the phone down and began preparing lunch. Usually after lunch we have a bit of free play.  I’ll be honest, I needed to just have them take a nap early.  I needed to go to the bathroom and cry.

I called my dear friend, Becky.  She was so upset that the office would make me wait until February 24.  She told me to call back and demand an earlier appointment.  She was right.  So I did.  February 11.  I would have to wait one more week to talk to someone about my particular type of cancer.  I didn’t even know the name of my cancer.  I didn’t even know the stage of the cancer.  Could they tell if it had spread anywhere else?  Was I going to die?  Was I going to have to undergo chemo?  Would I lose my hair?  Would I have to have a mastectomy?  Oh God.  My mind wouldn’t shut off. 

I realized as I sat on the pot in the bathroom that adjoins our kitchen where I cried that afternoon that it was February 4.  Exactly 18 years earlier on that day I found out I was pregnant with my oldest daughter.  I remember how happy I was.  I knew from that moment on my life would never be the same.  I remember telling myself 18 years prior that my life was just about to begin.  Nothing up until that moment I found out I was pregnant was important anymore.  My life was just beginning .  As I stared at out the window I wondered if this was a sign.  Was this the opposite of that day 18 yrs. earlier.  Would this be the beginning of the end of my life?  Would I survive this?  Would I …?


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Terri Knutson
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 13:11:39

    Chris, I’m so sorry.


  2. PM
    Feb 17, 2009 @ 08:47:43

    Romans 8:26
    At the same time the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we don’t know how to pray for what we need. But the Spitit intercedes along with our groans that cannot be expressed in words.
    Psalm 23:4
    Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm. Your rod and your staff give me courage.


  3. DPond
    Feb 17, 2009 @ 16:50:36

    Dishes are soaking. One load to go. David’s sleep apnea keeps me concerned. He won’t use a C-PAP. Most often I sleep down stairs. Breath…Exhale. He gets mad if I wake him up to tell him to breath. So I make noise to jar him into breathing…. the reason for washing dishes at 4:00 a.m.
    Today, and yesterday he had diverticulitis. What we call a tummy ache. Clear liquids all day, antibiotics. I drive to the Pharmacy to pick up the meds. Pick up more boxes.
    Sleeping downstairs, he is tonight. I wanted to keep an eye on him or an ear. PSA is 4.6. Prostetechtomy 10 years ago. Close call. 1999. And in 2003 bypass open heart surgery. Little guy big presence. Believes in miralces.
    Packing up a lifetime of items to move close to my Mom. His idea. My labor. Because of Jesus who is our God.
    Noise in his lungs. See the doctor about the exray I kept after him to get. Cancelled his urology appointment out of embarassment. Diarrhea. Dr. Selman was to look up his address. Not if Dave could help it. He gets up to pee. The faucet still spurts and interrupted stream. And he smokes like a chimney.. Talks about quitting daily. Can’t smoke in the U-Haul. Today we see Marina and Jeff at doctors request. I’ll ask him to go with me. Coaches me.
    Jello, orange and crackers then antibiotic. Attitude is on ornery.
    He’s feeling better. Compaoins I didn’t come to bed.



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Started Tracking on 12-1-09


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