I called my sister, Gail. "They're over 95% sure I have breast cancer." She gasped. She's 45 and three years younger than I am. She said, "I always thought, if one of us got cancer, it would be me." I heard her exhale the smoke on her cigarette and said, "Honestly, me too." She said, "We're going to get through this together." I cried and said, "I don't want to lose my breasts." She said, "They're just boobs." Yeah. But they're MY boobs. I've had them since I was thirteen and they are a part of me. "But you can get implants and have smaller, more manageable "perky" ones." All I could see in my mind's eye was my chest covered with gauze and me being frozen with fear too afraid to remove it for the first time. Gail was trying to make me laugh. She knows how much I love to do it. For those of you who have never met her: I'm the quiet, shy, tactful one who thinks before they speak.
I was drained by the thought of calling the remainder of my family and my friends and re-hashing the details. She said, "Do you want me to call Dale? (my stepfather)" Feeling guilty about not dropping this bomb on my own, she said, "You don't need to worry about anything else. I'll call him." I was grateful and relieved. I decided to send an e-mail to a few close friends asking to pray for a miracle, still holding out for hope that the doctor was wrong. I couldn't believe I had to wait four more days for the test results!
I tried so hard to get the image out of my head. This cancer has spread. I remember my first visit to a doctor I finally trust. That was March 2012. I knew something was wrong. I was so tired. Very much unlike me. She said I was vitamin deficient and loaded me on mass doses of various vitamins. My liver enzymes were elevated, probably due to the Tylenol I was taking for my headaches, which were probably a result of my vitamin deficiencies. She gave me a test kit with seven small bottles. I had to spit in a test tube every day for a week, freeze it and on the seventh day, Fed-ex it to the lab. The results said I was estrogen dominate. She prescribed bio-identical hormones to balance the estrogen and progesterone and said.....
"You're a sitting duck for breast cancer."
Of all the issues, she was most concerned about my sleep (or lack of) habits. For many years, I would pride myself on not requiring much sleep. I've always been an A-type personality and would work and play (usually work) until I literally dropped. I'd collapse in the bed and fall asleep immediately. I once asked Jeff a question. He answered me and I jumped. I had fallen asleep somewhere between the question and the answer. How long could that have been? Three seconds? I laughed when I told Dr. Edwards this story. She stared at me with a straight face, and said, "You are slowly killing yourself."
I downloaded I couple of books on my Kindle about breast cancer and inspiring stories of survivors. I read a few pages and realized that I need to bite this off and chew very small pieces at a time. I wondered what type/strain/stage I had and prayed that it hadn't spread. Were those elevated liver enzymes more than just side effects of the Tylenol?
I pinched myself hoping to wake up from this nightmare.