I can still remember the day that I got the news.
It was November 13th, 2015. Friday the 13th.
Which, coincidentally was also the day my brother was born. Friday the 13th. October 13, 1989.
So that’s how I remember that day. How could I forget? I had received a call from my doctors office a few days ago to schedule an appointment. I thought it was just a follow up from the routine laprscopic surgery I had gotten just days before. The procedure was to remove a cyst we found on my left ovary and had monitored throughout my pregnancy with Gianna. As she grew in my belly, the cyst also grew. Once she was born, it seemed like all was well as the cyst began to shrink but about a year after Gianna was born, I was told that the cyst had grown substantially.
I didn’t know they had to biopsy everything they took out of you. So, I had no idea that my cyst was being biopsied after it was removed from my ovary. So, I had no idea what I was walking into when I entered my doctors office that Friday. The first thing I was asked by the kind lady who escorted me into the doctors office (Barbara, I still remember her and the look on her face), was that if I was alone. I said yes, I was alone… should I have brought someone. She looked very worried.
That’s when I started to worry.
A few minutes later my doctor entered the office and told me that they had biopsied my cyst and found it to be cancerous. And more bad news was that since my latest surgery was done lapriscopically, the chance of the cancer spreading had greatly increased. Basically, in order to remove the cyst, they make 3 incisions around my belly and kind of burst the cyst inside of me before pulling out through the small opening. This means that if the cancer was the aggressive, spreading kind, it was really bad news for me.
I was devasted. Stunned. Shocked. Angry. How could this be happening to me? To my family? Especially given what was happening with my brother, how could my parents suddenly have both of their children fighting for their lives? We were good people. Why was this happening to us.
Then I thought about Gianna. Oh my god. Gianna. Was she going to grow up without a mother. I was reeling. The doctor asked if I wanted to call someone.. I did. Ross. I called him. I don’t really remember if he answered. I think he did?
Then I called my mom. I could tell she was trying not to faint. She immediately got in her car, got my aunt and met me in the hospital. The doctor had ordered immediate scans to be done.
5 years later as I write this, I can still remember that day. Sitting in the waiting room, drinking that gross white berry flavored drink that they give you before CT Scans. My stomach was already in knots and I was expected to drink this gross tasting stuff. I remember between the haze of my mind that I drank it. My aunt encouraging me to drink so I drank.
Just going through the motions. All the while thinking – what if this was it? What if this was the day that my life ended? I would never grow up to see Gianna become a woman. Or be there the day that my brother finally won his freedom and came home. I was going to miss so much.
I got through that day with the help of my mom and my aunt. Ross was with Gianna and was waiting for me when I got home that night after spending the day undergoing tests.
We just sat and cried together. There was anger but mostly an overwhelming grief that enveloped out little family. The thought that this was all going away was something that neither of us could shake.
I think the worst part is the unknown. Not knowing if you are going to be alive in a few months or years from now. Not knowing was way worse for me than I could have ever imagined. But we wouldn’t know how bad the cancer had spread until my staging surgery. When they went in to remove my ovaries and give me a full hysterectomy- so after I lost my ability to have children I would find out how long I had to live. Great deal huh?
Luckily, thanks to my aunt, I had one of the best surgeons in this area and he did a wonderful job. I remember being at the hospital with my mom. I remember lying in the bed ready for surgery. And then I remember waking up after surgery. It was done. The stuff that made me into a mom wasn’t there any more. Those parts of me that I took for granted were gone. Forever. I would never again be able to get pregnant or to experience the joy of another child.
I was totally overwhelmed.
During this same time, Ross started working at Verizon. A part of me was and is so angry with him for not being with me through the next few months- I mean really being with me- but I also understood that he needed to make sure he had steady work- just in case I wasn’t’ around to help with our finances. I know look back and realize, that was Ross’s reality. He was wondering how he was going to be a single dad AND support our baby by himself when I had been the primary bread winner for our family for so long. The pressure he must have felt was immense.
Even years later, although I am grateful to be in remission, I also know that everything could change in a heartbeat. I wake up every day knowing that my Cancer could come back. And just like that, I will be fighting for my life again. Praying that I will get to see my beautiful child grow up.
Sometimes I read stories of others who have lost to Cancer and I am always overwhelmed with what could have happened to me. I am then grateful that it didn’t but then I am reminded that it could always come back. Cancer it seems is always lurking around the corner- especially if you have already had it once. It’s there, waiting.