Last Saturday I walked with my daughter in the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Walk for the Cure. Our team was A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts. I'm in a pink shirt. I'm a survivor. For me, it's been 3-1/2 years.
The day I got the call after my routine mammogram was a life changer.
I'm in the kitchen. The phone rings. "Mrs. Dunbar, this is Kaiser." Hmmm, why are they calling, this can't be good. "We need you to come in for a biopsy.... routine.... breast cancer.... percentages... blah, blah, blah...will next Thursday be OK?"
My mind went numb... head spinning. Reeling, to be exact. It's got to be a mistake. NOT ME. I'm healthy. I'm going to live to be 100. I can't frikkin die... my girls need me.
I somehow am upstairs. "Davey.... I just got a call" I burst into tears. Sobbed. His massive arms envelope me, willing their protection. Our lives changed at that moment. My girls would be motherless... he must remarry. They need a Mom. We don't have a will. ZZZZRRRRRRTTTTTTTTTT (the sound of needle on a record) "Wait. Sal, what did she say exactly?" I dunno, but I took notes.
We sit at the pute, and google the words she said. ....Not life threatening... not invasive.... 100% cure rate... OH. Maybe it's not so bad.
In 10 minutes I went from planning the qualities of my husband's next wife, to realizing it would be OK. I wasn't going to die.
After the biopsy confirmed the diagnosis, I had surgery to remove the demonic cells (and caught up on a season of 24 lying on the couch).
One week later I run an auction for charity at my office. It's pretty intense. I don't have the results of the surgery yet. I should have heard. I stupidly check my voicemail while setting up. "Hello Mrs. Dunbar... It's probably nothing... sending to UC San Francisco... second opinion... oncology... specialist...blah,blah,blah." Numb again. Reeling again. UC Frikkin Francisco??? Why do they need to send my flesh there? I thought this was a slam dunk. Oh crap, I'm dying for sure.
But trooper up girl... you've got an auction to run.
I do my best to ignore the shattering shock of the phone call. The auction is a tremendous success. We raise over $30K in our little parking lot for the Salvation Army and C.A.R.E. Afterwards I cry again. I'm a dead duck. A few days later. Doc calls. It's all fine. It was nothing. Just the same cancer they originally thought it was.
I go through radiation. I take tamoxifen... 5 years of it. I take 4 months off from real estate, and walk the trails of the American River Parkway every day, hand in hand with my supportive hubby. I make music CD's for the radiologists. I quit eating junk food. I drop 8 pounds. I stop and smell the roses.
And I read. Everything I can find on what I have. I find out it isn't so bad. In fact, with all my contributing factors... normal weight, good diet, excercise, no other history in my family, take tamoxifen, do radiation, etc.... I have only a slightly higher risk of getting cancer again as anyone else.
Are you kidding me? And I freaked out like I was dying? I planned my husband's next bride for nothing? I went through all that.... and I'm fine as the next guy???? Amazing.
So the moral of the story is,
1. Cancer is not necessarily a death sentence
2. Time off can be pretty cool
3. Find out the facts of any diagnosis before you get all girly hysterical
4. Realize stress kills. And the stress you unecessarily bring on yourself from your scared s**tless freak-out may do more harm than your medical problem, which may not be so bad, afterall.
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