Finding Strength

The latest excerpt from my book, The Journey of My Jugs, is an account of one of the many post-diagnosis appointments. When I received the dreaded diagnosis, I sat alone in the doctor’s office and promised myself I would have someone by my side for as many appointments as possible.

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I went into the clinic at 11 a.m. I had to fast before this procedure, and I was completely parched by the time the appointment started. Adlai sat next to me, and I realized how important it was to have him there. I almost started bawling in the waiting room. Tears welled up in my eyes as they have done many times since I was diagnosed. I wondered if tear ducts dried up.  Maybe I have an overactive tear-maker. There was a large, wheezing woman who sat across from us. I wondered if she had to fast. I wondered if she was just as thirsty as I was.

The phlebotomist called my name and asked for my birthdate. She took me back to a small private room. The chair was so high my feet barely reached the floor. She started asking what the weather was like probably because she could sense my fear of needles. “3-2-1 little stick,” she said.

Little stick my ass. That hurt. How big was the needle? It was less of a pin prick and more like a burning gouge. Maybe my veins were upset too. My whole body felt ravaged, so I imagined my veins were affected too. Every fiber of my being was trying to hold it together, still trying to grasp the devastating news and the positive in all of this.

I walked out with a small, white, gauze bandage around the gouge. Adlai was sitting alone. The plump woman was gone. He noticed the tears running down my cheeks, so he played a cat video on Youtube. I stopped crying, and started giggling at the kitties doing silly stunts. I looked at him and smiled. “Thank you,” I said softly. “I love you.”

“We’re going to get through this. Be strong. I know you have it in you, but you have to be the one to find it,” he said.

~

Throughout my journey, he always had the right words, or the right cat videos to help ease some of the pain and the stress.

Does anyone else use cat videos for a laugh?

 

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Breast Cancer Diagnosis: A Wave of Sadness

When I was diagnosed at age 42 with stage 3 breast cancer, I knew I wanted to write a book about the journey. I knew the writing process would be cathartic for me, and I wanted the end result to inspire others tackling breast cancer or adversity of any kind.

One in eight women will develop an invasive form of breast cancer in their lifetime, so another goal I have for this book is to bring more awareness to younger women. It’s so important to do your monthly breast exams and to make that appointment for your first mammogram when you turn 40.

Many of you may have followed me on my CaringBridge site for the weeks following my diagnosis. I mused about my double mastectomy, the strength and courage I was given from family and friends, shaving my head, and a few other milestones.

The next few paragraphs are from my first journal entries, moments after I received the dreaded breast cancer diagnosis.

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There was still no fighting the tears and the ugly cry that had taken over me, so I called my husband Adlai, and I heard those famous words, we’ll get through this together. Another wave of sadness hit me. One deeper than anything I have ever felt. I haven’t been giving our relationship the time it deserved; instead I have been working full-time and picking up freelance writing jobs to grow my byline. My weekends were filled with writing assignments while my week nights were filled with teaching fitness classes or preparing for 5k and 10k races. I made my husband entertain himself. I felt like a terrible wife. Now, I was a terrible wife with cancer and a pity party was already in progress.

What would I say on my deathbed? I would tell him to find someone else, to remember me, but find someone else to love. I would tell him to find someone who will share a hunting experience with him, someone who loves to ride in boats that go really fast, someone who is a better wife than me.

I sobbed the entire way home. I felt like there was no hope for a new life after cancer even though my doctor was positive about my prognosis. My doctor drank from the glass that was half full, while I was drinking pulp at the bottom of a glass.

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I hope you enjoyed this passage from The Journey of My Jugs. Be on the lookout for future posts that include more excerpts from my book. If you want to read more, please check out my CaringBridge site for longer passages.