An explanation...

Why Foob? I had a double mastectomy, and at the time, the plastic surgeon put "expanders" under the muscles in my chest. Every 2-3 weeks, they were filled with more saline, in preparation for my reconstructive surgery. They were very full and hard. Uncomfortable. One time, one of my sons gave me a hug and then said "Your foobs are hard!" Hee, hee, hee! My kids have this endearing habit of combining words. So, "Foobs" are fake boobs. Which I will still have, even after the reconstruction.

Foob Babe - that would be me!
"The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next." ~Mignon McLaughlin


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Friday, September 18, 2009

I Find Out - I HAVE CANCER...

After I had a needle-guided biopsy, the waiting began. Don't you hate it when the results from tests take FOREVER?! The waiting was hard. I just wanted to know. I felt like the world should just stop and hold it's breath until my results came in. I mean, how long could it possibly take to check for cancer?! I called the surgeon's office on Monday and Tuesday, asking if the results were back. He gently explained that it was a complicated thing they had to do - first they had to dye the tissue, then they had to slice it up - like slicing bread - and then they had to test each tiny piece to make sure we got everything. If any little bit of the DCIS was touching the dyed area, then the "borders" wouldn't be clear and we'd have to go back in and take more out.

So, I tried to be patient. I went to work on Wednesday, and it was hard to concentrate. By early afternoon, I figured another day had gone by without results. As my boss, and friend, Carol, was walking out the door at around 3:15 pm, my cell phone rang. She hesitated, and I looked at the caller ID. "It's the surgeon's office." Carol came back in as I answered the phone. It was Dr. Robinson. He said, "Kara, we got the results of your biopsy back. (Right then, I figured it had to be negative, because why would he tell me I have cancer over the phone?!). "You've got two kinds of breast cancer." Just like that. A simple statement. You've got cancer.

How many people have heard those terrible, frightening words? I bet every one of you who has heard those words remembers where you were when you heard them. It's not something that I ever thought I'd hear. I looked at Carol, and nodded. She sank down on the sofa. I somehow found myself sitting down in my chair. I continued to just listen...

"You've got two kinds of cancer. One is non-invasive. It's the Ductal Carcinoma In Situ that we talked about. But, as they were slicing the tissue open, they found a small tumor. That is invasive. This changes things."
"Well, we'll need to check the surrounding tissue - especially check the lymph nodes to see if it has spread... blah, blah, blah..."
... and I was sucked into the world of cancer speak. Another biospy. Didn't get it all. Sentinal lymph node dissection. Possibly chemo. Maybe mastectomy (ok, I didn't hear that - I just thought it). The surgeon tried to explain where we needed to go from there. It was hard to listen and comprehend. I look at Carol the whole time. It's like she kept me grounded. If she wouldn't have been there, I couldn't have held it together. I calmly made an appointment to see the surgeon again. Then, I hung up the phone.

"Kara, I'm so sorry." Carol was in tears. Her mom had died from breast cancer. I realized then what awful news this was for her to hear. And then she said, "Shantel and I just knew it would be positive." Huh?!
"What do you mean, you knew?"
"We just felt like there was a huge change coming for you - that the test results would be positive." Huh. Ok.

Carol went home, and I got into my car to head to an appointment I had. Again, I thought the world would just stop and hold it's breath for a minute. But, nothing like that happened. I called my husband. Here's how the conversation went...

"Hi, what's up?"
"Well, I got the results from the biopsy back."
"I've got two kinds of breast cancer." Pause.
"What?" I repeat myself.
"Yes, yes I do."
"No you don't. Who told you that?"

Isn't it just maddening when someone won't believe you. Did he think I was making it up?!

"Yes, Rick, I just talked to the surgeon. He found the DCIS, which is non-invasive, but they also found a tumor that didn't show up on the mammogram. That's invasive. I have breast cancer." Another long pause.

You see, neither Rick nor I thought for even one second that the test results would be positive. Neither one of us saw this coming. It just kind of hit us like a brick wall.
"I'm so sorry, Kara. Do you want me to come home right now? I don't want you to be alone." Sweet.
"Nope, I'm going to get my nails done."
"What?! No - you can't do that."
"Look, I need NORMAL! I need to do something normal right now. I can't just sit and think about this. I'll go crazy."

We finished our conversation, and I headed to get my nails done. On the way, I called my mom and my sister. My mom was calm and reassuring. My sister was hysterical - for a minute - and then she calmed down. You see, she had just lost her sister-in-law to breast cancer a few month earlier. What a nightmare. I found out much later that my mother had hung up the phone and collapsed on the floor. Into a fetal position. My dad couldn't get her up. She just lay there, sobbing. I'm glad I didn't know that at the time. I needed my mom's strength. She never showed anything but a positive, fighting attitude when she was around me.

When I got home, I had the very unpleasant task of telling my children. My oldest was off serving an LDS mission in Japan - he'd been gone for almost a year and a half. I called the mission home and talked to the president of the mission. (you can't just call and talk to you son - it's not allowed). The president told me to write a letter to Grant and mail it asap. He would personally give it to Grant and be there to talk to him. So, I sat down and wrote the letter. It was a hard one to write - I mean, what do you say? I tried to be upbeat and positive... Everything was going to be fine - don't worry. Forget about me and yourself, and burying yourself in the work - Heavenly Father will take care of things, etc.

(His reaction to the letter? He emailed me - "I knew you would have cancer. I just had a feeling when you told me you had been sick that you'd have cancer." Funny thing - after my previous email told him that I wasn't feeling well and was having tests done, he emailed me back and said, "Well, don't get cancer! HAHA!" Yeah. Then, the next thing he knows, he gets a letter telling him I have cancer!)

Then, I had to tell my 18 year old. His reaction? "Yeah, I knew this was going to happen." Again, HUH?! He said, "It's going to be ok, Mom."

Then I told my 14 year old. "What? What does that mean?" He was worried. But I reassured him.

Then, last of all, I told my 11 year old. "Matthew, remember the surgery I had? Well, the doctor called and he said that I have breast cancer." "That sucks. What does it mean?" "It's ok. I have a really good doctor, and he is going to make me better. I'll be sick for awhile, and probably have another surgery, but I'll be fine after that. Ok?" "Ok." And then he went back to playing his video game. I loved his reaction the best.

I don't blame anyone for reacting the way they did - denying, crying, questioning, etc. What would you do? You hear this awful thing and it's hard to cover up that first reaction. Anyway, the weird thing about that day was what came out of everyone's mouths: "I knew it. We knew the test results would be positive." Every person, except me and Rick, KNEW I'd have breast cancer. Even my kids. The only explanation I could come up with... Heavenly Father prepared every one of them to hear that news. He prepared them! He helped them deal with it. I'm so glad that happened.

It was a hard day - possibly the hardest one to that point. And I had NO IDEA what was coming. But, I knew I had the love and support of every person around me.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for leaving your comment on my blog today. Cancer is a pain in the bum, it spoils everything. I am thinking about blogging about my fitness and weight challenge on a seperate blog from Cancer Aint Gonna Beat Me so that I can give a daily account and maybe help others in a similar situation x