Sunday, July 7, 2013

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma

I was relieved to be able to work at home that day.  One day a month, I compose a retailer newsletter and it usually takes me all day.  Honestly, I needed a distraction.   I knew that there would be many days ahead where I would have to miss work and needed to “make hay” while I still could.   While copying and pasting pictures into the newsletter, I thought back to the days when I took all of those retailer photos.   It struck me how quickly the world can change.
When the phone rang, I recognized the number immediately.  St. Joe Breast Center.  My voice was quivering when I said hello.  “My I please speak to Elizabeth Damron.”  I recognized Dr. Brown’s voice immediately. “This is she.” 
Her voice softened and she spoke very slowly this time.  She’s from northern Kentucky and normally talks a mile a minute.  When I first met Dr. Brown, I immediately thought, “She reminds me of Jennifer…”  Jennifer is a fellow sales rep. at the lottery and from the same general vicinity as Dr. Brown.  When Jennifer speaks, I’m always amazed that her brain and voice can keep up with each other.    Both women are very bright and very experienced in their professions.  Since I moved from Lexington to eastern Kentucky nineteen years ago, my accent and the speed of my speech has changed considerably.  She intuitively realized this and spoke very cautiously.
“I have the results from the mass in your left breast….. it IS cancer. The strain is called Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.  I’m sorry. I wish I had better news.  I don’t have any news on the lymph node yet, but when I do, I will call you.  Do you have any questions?  (Silence) Have you given any thought to which doctors you want on your team?”   I said, “My friend Cinder recommended Dr. Gohmann as an oncologist, but now that I have the official diagnosis, I’m going to post a status on Facebook and ask for more recommendations.”  She replied that it was important that I make an educated decision and felt comfortable with it.  A few extra days weren’t going to make a difference.
As quickly as cancer cells multiply, that was hard for me to imagine.
I needed to call my boss, Jeff.   I was so touched by his kindness and compassion. He said not to worry about work and to focus on getting well. I got a big lump in my throat when I imagined the poor souls who had no support from their employers.   Suddenly, my job, which many say has consumed me for eighteen years, was no longer my obsession.  I have a new project and it’s not Keno….or promoting the next big jackpot. It’s healing.  That’s it.  My family insists on it and now, so does my boss.  I’m realizing that I need to make a big change and put myself first on the list. 
Now it was time to ask for help.  I posted a status update on Facebook asking for recommendations for doctors.  Once I clicked on “POST”, my notification button was growing like the National Debt Clock billboard on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan!   Wow. I couldn’t believe how many people cared about me.  Not only did I receive over 100 responses, I got dozens of private messages offering prayers and recommendations.   What’s more, total strangers saw my post (via a mutual friend), and took the time to send some very inspiring messages. 
It confirmed what I already knew. Most people are inherently good and want to help others. 


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