If you haven’t already….read my last post “It Is Cancer” to get you caught up to this post.
In my last post, I don’t think I said anything about us telling our parents what was going on. The days between finding the lump and official diagnosis are so blurry; as are the days just after the diagnosis. So, I can’t remember if I told my parents before my diagnostic testing or after, but somewhere in there my husband and I drove an hour away to my Dad’s house on a random day during the week so that I could tell him what was going on. I think he was as shocked as I was, but in true form he held his cool and composure and gave me his advice. We didn’t stay long that day. The same day I called my Mom to give her the news too. She sounded the same as my dad did. Those were really hard conversations to have, but since I didn’t officially know anything yet, everyone….including myself was in the “don’t freak out; let’s wait and see” frame of mind.
Waiting for test results is one of the most difficult if not the most difficult part of dealing with cancer. Waiting on the biopsy results was brutal…..while I waited I found a nearby nutritional IV clinic and got an immune boosting IV. I felt like doing something, it was better than doing nothing.
The Tuesday I was given the diagnosis, I called my husband from my vehicle to tell him the news. I was driving home and he was going to meet me there. The world suddenly looked different from my eyes….hazy. I had a million thoughts and questions running through my head, yet was unable to think or focus. I needed time. But, I needed to tell my parents the results….I called them both and told them “it is cancer”. It is one of the most difficult conversations I’ve ever had with them. My husband told his parents for me.
Honestly, I didn’t want anyone to know. I wanted to keep it close to the vest. I didn’t want people asking me questions I didn’t know the answers to; and I didn’t know the answer to anything….not even how I was feeling.
By that Thursday, I had an appointment with an oncologist that my GP recommended. I was not a fan. While I personally appreciate someone being straight with me, in my emotional state, I didn’t appreciate his lack of compassion at all. He didn’t present options, he presented to me as though there was one way to skin-the-cat and that was it. But I needed information….so I kept him on the books while I figured out what to do next. He had ordered a MammaPrint test on my biopsy tissue that came back as High risk, Basal-type which he explained was rare and aggressive. The report said that the Distant Metastasis Free Interval with chemotherapy and hormonal therapy together was 94.6% predicted benefit at 5-years. When he said the word “chemotherapy” I broke; I BROKE down. I am not one to cry in front of strangers or even people that I know for that matter. I was feeling venerable and embarrassed that I cried. I didn’t want to accept his recommendation. I was hurt and angry. I cried all the way home from the appointment.
At this point, I realized I didn’t know much about this world and what exactly the oncologist was talking about and I needed to get educated on the allopathic gargin. In the meantime, I decided to interview oncologists until I found one that I liked. I received recommendations from my plastic surgeon’s nurse practitioner and another acquaintance that was currently going through treatment for triple negative breast cancer. I made 3 appointments with 3 other oncologist from 3 different institutions with the goal of getting a consensus as well as choosing someone. I sent them all my medical information and armed myself with “Chris Beast Cancer’s – 20 Questions to Ask your Oncologist” a bit of a joke really….but it did open my eyes to the gaps in the standard of care and also the difference between how allopathic medicine and alternative medicines look at the body and cancer.
I called the plastic surgeon (that I already had an appointment scheduled with for the week after on Wednesday) and told them what was going on and they recommended and scheduled an adjunctive appointment with a surgical oncologist they work with frequently. Turns out she was supposed to be one of the best in town.
By the time the weekend hit, after I received my official diagnosis, I had ordered 10 or 12 cancer books off Amazon and done tons of Googling. I went to my Dad’s house for my monthly weekend visit and spent the whole weekend on the couch pouring over these books, highlight, tabbing etc. Everyone in the house moved around and sat around and didn’t say much to me (giving me the space and quite to read) during that weekend. I started researching and scheduling phone consultation appointments with various alternative cancer treatment centers all over the U.S. and Mexico. I needed to be educated. I needed to feel some semblance of control. I needed to get a grasp on what I was going to do. I felt a sense of urgency on the verge of panic. I am a big believer in the body’s ability to heal itself given the correct inputs. I was initially so against chemo and radiation; particularly radiation. But cancer is complicated. The reason cancer occurs is complicated. I didn’t know enough; I felt like I was flying blind. I was so confused about how this could happen to me, scared of suffering, and in shock that at 42 years old I was dealing with cancer.