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Friday, July 17, 2009

2 Letters & a Muffin Top (the diagnosis- finale)

Holy sh*it I'm going to get diagnosed with breast cancer.

I call my mom and explain the conversation I had with Voice of Doom. To be honest I can't remember exactly what she said. She asks me if I wanted her to go with me and I say no. I was going to be fine, I can handle it. But I'll come by after the appointment.

When I tell B he is softly supportive but not overly worried. After all, it could be anything. I tell Chrissy and a friend Marie who are at work with me. Marie, the sweetheart that she is, gives me a list of explanations that don't include cancer. I feel much better but on the inside I know. I knew the way you know about a good melon. What?

Then I realized what will happen if my mom doesn't come with me. I will have to go home and look my parents in the eyes and tell them I have cancer. And they will wonder how on Earth this can be happening. They will think about my paternal grandpa and my maternal grandma and what is was like as they fought and lost. I can't even imagine how it feels to have your child be in harms way like this. I don't want to see the pain on their faces. So I call her back and say I will pick her up on my way in.

~Fast forward to the doctors office~

We were in the office waiting. I'm not positive how long but I'm pretty sure it was close to 302 hours... give or take 15 minutes. I was sitting on the chair/table and mom was standing off to the side just slightly behind me.

I wonder how this is going to feel. Will I freak out? How long until the panic sets in?

And then She came in. Was she a doctor? A nurse? A volunteer? She was wearing the white coat but something seemed wrong. Hmmmm, what was it? Oh wait, I know! Its her inappropriate manner of dress! Her coat was open, wide open and underneath she wore jeans 2 sizes too tight and a shirt 2 sizes too small. Her shirt was high enough to expose her midriff and all its contents. Behold the Muffin Top.

Now I'd like to say that I understand the existence of the muffin top. Believe me, I really, really do. I've worn the too tight jeans and I know the spare tire feeling. But in a professional setting do you not agree the muffin top should be covered?

Oh my GOD! This woman is going to tell me the news that changes my life and all I can see is her muffin top.

I glanced over to make eye contact with mom as if to say.. Do you see this?! But she was focused and waiting for answers. As the doctor/nurse walks over I try hard not to stare at her belly button. But in my mind I can recall it perfectly. Don't ask me why I was so fixated on this. In fact, it was the last thing I remember being focused on before I heard...

"I don't know what else to say you have cancer"

The verdict was in. Delivered by the muffin top in one run-on sentence that lingered in the room. It was echoing in the room. "I don't know what else to say you have cancer"

My first thought? How am I going to tell B?

It took me a second to realize the doctor/nurse was talking to us. "Do you need a tissue?" "Do you need to sit down?"

I heard an odd sound behind me and realized it was mom. She was trying not to cry and she was leaning against the table. She sat down and the nurse handed us tissues.

I'll have to spend more time thinking about this because I remember very little about what happened after. I asked what the next step was. We made conversation as they wrote down references for doctors. Earlier in the week they had told a 16 year old girl she had breast cancer. 16. How do you deal with this kind of craziness in high school?

We got back to the house and I paced the sidewalk while making calls. We have very bad reception in the house so this was the logical thing to do. I really didn't want to be inside when mom called dad at work. I tried to formulate in my head what I would say on my phone calls. I still had the tissue in my pocket in case of mental breakdown.

How do people in the movies do this? Have I read any books that have characters who tell people they have cancer? Nothing. Think. Think. Think. Should I even call everyone now? I'm going to ruin everyone's work day.

A little background: I am the baby of my family. Seriously, the baby. I am 10 years younger than the youngest sibling and 17 years younger than the oldest. So I grew up with siblings/caretakers/second parents. Things like this just don't happen to the baby.

The conversations I had were such a perfect representation of my siblings. It just completely mirrored their personalities and I laugh when I think about it. All the conversations started with a series of "No way" or "Seriously" or "You're kidding". I called my oldest brother who told me to lean on him no matter what. He wanted to make sure I understood he would be there for me. Then there was the conversation with my other brother. I couldn't even tell you what we talked about because we were on the phone for like 30 minutes. We talked about the lady who lived down the street from him who had breast cancer. We talked about how young I was to be diagnosed. We talked about what kind of treatment I might have to have. It was kind of like having any conversation. Even then I thought it was funny how we casually chatted. Don't get me wrong, he was concerned but neither one of us were overly emotional.

Looking back there were two conversations that stand out. Telling my sister, Debbie and telling B.

I knew my sister was going to be a hard one because she had lost a friend to breast cancer months earlier. She saw first hand how ugly things could get and it was still fresh in her memory.

Debbie: Hey!
Me: Hi, I just got back from the doctors. I had a biopsy done a week ago..
Debbie: And.....
Me: And I have breast cancer.
Debbie: Nuh uh.
Me: Uh-huh
Debbie: No way.
Me: Yeah.
Debbie: Are you serious? ~voice starts to crack~
Me: Yep, I have breast cancer.
Debbie: Oh my God ~sniffle, shaky inhale, sniffle~
Me: ~eyes tearing up~
Debbie: But you're not going to look good all bald!
Me: OMG I know! How weird is that going to be!

The conversation went on from there. We discussed important matters like... what if I have a grossly misshapen head? And how I once knew a guy who we thought had wavy hair but who really had a wrinkly scalp. We talked and we laughed. I can honestly say that we laughed through the entire experience. Oh there were hard times and tears were shed but there was always laughter.

And then there was breaking it to B.

B: Hi!
Me: Hi. Um, what are you doing right now?
B: I'm in the car with __.
Me: Oh, I can call you back later.
B: No, no thats OK.
Me: So, I just got back from the doctor.
B: Yes?
Me: I have breast cancer.

B: Oh my God we have cancer.

It came out like a whisper, soft and sweet. And then I smiled. We had a short conversation and I told him I had to call my siblings to let them know. But what I really remember from that conversation is that I knew we had to be together. I knew I loved him. We'd been separated for a few months just prior to this and any confusion that was there before had vanished. OK, I knew how much I loved him when he was first thing that popped into my head after being diagnosed. But the man was right there with me. I melt into a puddle just thinking about it. It was the we that made the difference. Two little letters changed the day.


  1. I love how he automatically said we. Bless him.

  2. I am bawling...absolutely a wreck...
    I love B he is perfect, I love your sense of humor and the muffin top that defined your day in the office. I was wiggin out waiting for todays post from you, such a pleasure to read your take on things and your melon joke...what?

  3. What Buckeroomama said... he's sure a keeper, that B of yours.

  4. YES! I couldn't sleep. So I logged on hoping for this installment and you didn't disappoint! First off, you are amazing. You dealt with this with such grace and strength! Muffin Top makes me mad. I can think of a million ways to say that better. Maybe it doesn't matter. but still. Couldn't she have said it better? Nicer? More gently? Anyway, B is my hero! No wait, he's your hero! You got some great siblings there too. :o)

  5. I can only imagine the thoughts going through your head. I have had three very close friends go through the same thing. And they handled just as well as you have.
    I know there had to be bad times. But the survival has a lot to do with the strength of the victim.

  6. Gosh.
    I'm so sorry.

    The good thing ... is there a good thing? ... is that there are SOOOOOOOOO many survivors and medical technology has come such a long way over the years.

    I'm keeping you in my daily prayers.

    One more thing ... I hate to ask this, but did you get a second opinion? Perhaps at a place in your area that specializes in breast cancer? Their knowledge and expertise can really make a bad situation a bit better than going to the muffin-top place. (I kind of have a background in breast cancer treatment. Used to be an OB-GYN-Women's Health Registered Nurse years ago.)

    Get a second opinion, Dear Sweet Dawn.

  7. If I had been on the ball -- I would have read the first installment of your breast cancer ordeal before handing out advice! Duh!!!

    I apologize.

    You are an inspiration, Dawn!!!

    Thank you for writing about your breast cancer.

  8. There is nothing on earth quite like that "we" to make the impossible to bear, bearable.

  9. I am crying. But I'm crying because of the WE - how sweet! how perfect! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Dawn---great post---it reads like a book---you ought to think about that....I'm just saying! Thanks for the transparency---who knows when we may be in the same place someday~

  11. Your story is inspiring me in my training walks. Thanks again for sharing.

  12. This is a perfect post, in every way. I read this earlier today and ended up in tears. I love the way you tell a story - well, when you've 'been there' it makes the telling all the easier.. I think? Thank you for sharing - none of us know when it may be our turn to step up to the plate. -Tammy

  13. Wow! I tend to bounce around a lot with my thoughts and I'm glad it didn't make you all dizzy.

    Its really wonderful knowing that I have you out there reading this. Thank you so much!

  14. I kinda got all choked up reading this post.

  15. I am now going in search of more tissue.

  16. Wow! I'm not sure how you found my blog, but I linked over to check out your site and I now have tears in my eyes! The thing that stood out to me as well is how he said "we" - sounds like you have an awesome support team!

    Now I have to go

  17. Oh, gosh. All my very best wishes for strength and health...

  18. Wow, you got me all teary here at work. I cannot believe you got such news from a muffin top... oy. A "we" will get you through so much. Thanks for your writings.

  19. I'm so sorry to hear you have breast cancer but it really is very treatable now. One of my good friends (only 28) is just finishing up radiation and is doing extremely well. Definitely not a fun road, but it sounds like you have a fantastic support system. And I would be thinking the exact same thing about muffin top!!

  20. Thank you so much for commenting. I should say that I am doing well and am cancer free!

  21. This is the most beautiful post. Lucky B. Lucky you. We. Yes, indeed, the two most powerful words. They can change a life. They have already, I know.

  22. I am reading through all your cancer blog posts, and it is bringing back so many memories. First off, that B is definitely a keeper. And the muffin-top? How gross! When our oncologist was telling us our baby had cancer I was fixated on his blanket, and I kept wrapping and re-wrapping him over and over and thinking how much I hated her and if she didn't shut up about signing releases about using his tumor for research I was going to punch her. Thankfully I didn't punch her because that would have been extrememly awkward, and she did end up being a great doctor. Thank God she didn't have a muffin top because I might not have been able to get over that! I'm so glad to hear that you are doing well and marrying that awesome man! Our baby is 3 and cancer free!

  23. What a courageous thing to be able to infuse such a harrowing experience with such humor. No doubt courage and humor played a big role in your beating the cancer, but the fact that you had someone like your B who immediately let you know that you were both in this together had to be the greatest blessing ever. Thank you for sharing this.

  24. Beautifully written, so honest and pure and my GOD are you a rock!!!! It was awesome to meet you over at choc and I just finally got a chance to visit your blog and guess what? I LOVE IT!

    Thank you for the reminder to LIVE life and enjoy every stinking second.

  25. Just came upon your blog through Facebook. Bawling!! You are amazing! Your little bun in the oven is lucky to have you as a mama! XOXO

  26. Oh Dawn, I have just read this for the first time. I know we were both on the BC WW thread but never heard the whole story. No 27 year old should have to go through that. Me, I'm an old lady, got BC for my 60th Birthday :) I love your sense of humor and love that you are healthy, happily married and about to have a BABY!! Can you even believe it. I'm so excited for you.
    Stay happy & healthy.....xoxoxoxo

  27. I didn't have breast cancer, but I was diagnosed with lymphoma at 26. It hits you like a semi, scattering your life in pieces. One of the hardest things for me was putting those pieces back together. At least there was a routine during treatment. Anyway, going to follow your blog, glad I found it! <3 Sarah


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