Five weeks ago, I was just an ordinary mom trying to rock a couple of part time jobs and provide at least two meals a day to three children. Or sometimes three meals a day to two children. Whatever. My children are 12, 15 and 16 years old and the days are often complicated.
Exactly one month ago today my husband and I sat in fancy high-backed chairs in a doctor’s office. The doctor came in and told us that he was sorry to say he had some disappointing news.
I have breast cancer.
A 38-year-old mother with basically no family history of cancer. After my first-ever mammogram, which led to a biopsy. Then the biopsy came back and, yes, it was cancer.
The following 36 hours or so were like a bad dream. There was so much to take in and I was in complete shock. What do I do first? How and when do I tell people? Do I call my mom now?
We stopped at the grocery store on the way home that day. I think I was stalling because I wandered around that store for a while. There’s still a couple of packages of cookies in the back of the pantry that I bought for no particular reason that day while I was mainly buying time.
This diagnosis quickly set into motion a whole series of events. Four different types of doctors to see. Tests to run. Needles and blood work and so on. I was quickly on information overload and pretty overwhelmed.
Each day for a couple of weeks felt like a new set of emotions or a new area of concern, pain or grief that would suddenly present itself. I found that it was important to feel the feelings and the waves of emotion when they hit.
The best and greatest news is that my prognosis is very good. After surgery and treatment. I should be cured and move out of this hard season.
Cancer will be a part of my story and always a part of my life, but it will not be all-consuming forever.
I decided just a few days after my diagnosis that I am going to invite anyone with me on this journey that wants to come.
I’ve been very public about my diagnosis and immediately started writing things that I wanted to share. There are lots of things that would be hard for me to talk to you about in person that I can write about comfortably. And sure, there are some very personal parts of this journey that I’ll keep private.
But I feel confident that I am going to be okay. My story is already written and I believe I’m just walking it out now. I know that I am supposed to use this season to help and encourage others.
To help others who are living amidst pain and struggle but trying to carry on.
To remind people who fight tough battles that they CAN be victorious.
And to demonstrate that we don’t have to struggle alone. When we invite others in, the burden is less and the support makes the struggle more bearable.
So in the weeks ahead, you can expect to hear from me about my cancer journey. My hope is to open up online conversations about breast cancer awareness with mothers of all ages. I want to write on how you can talk to your children about cancer, when family members are sick, and other hard topics.
I will use this part of my story and it will not be wasted.
So this is your invitation, dear reader. You are officially invited on my journey.