Helena’s Cancer Diary – Part III

Note: thus far, the primary thing for other women to learn from my experience is that although neither self nor doctor’s examination found anything of concern in my breasts, a mammogram only two weeks after the doctor visit revealed a small cancer. Don’t wait, ladies. Now, back to my story …

I still have my youngest child to tell, in many ways the most important as she was still at home. Grade 12s can be hard to pin down for a private conversation so a day went by.

That night I woke at 3:30 a.m. and there was no way I was getting back to sleep as the thoughts of what I would say to all the people still left on the list and their possible reactions swirled around and around my brain. Guilt at creating stress for my daughter in her graduation year was also churning inside me. Yes, I know it’s not my fault but we humans are not always rational.

At 4:30, I gave up and went downstairs and started some cleaning. At 6, He-who-thinks-he’s boss came to find me, astounded to find me up at that hour on a Sunday morning. I told him I had woken at 3:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep due to too much thinking.

He asked, “Is it bothering you that much? You shouldn’t worry, it’s early and it’s going to be taken care of.”

“It’s the telling that’s bothering me,” I explained. “I think it’ll be better when I’ve told everyone.”

And so the telling proceeded – my daughter that afternoon, then the calls to my siblings that evening. For the first time ever, I was glad my dad was no longer with us, glad I didn’t have to call and tell him the hard news about my diagnosis.

The next morning was Monday, Nov. 2 – I could make the call to get the surgery date. I watched the clock and paced the floor as 8 a.m. approached. Dialing the number I had been given at 8:01, I heard the answering machine advise me that the office opened at 8:30 a.m.

Again, I felt the churning in my gut. Another half hour of pacing before placing the call at 8:31. The date of my operation – Nov. 24. So far way, three whole weeks to wait. So soon, only three short weeks away.

Three weeks had its pros and cons. Three weeks to have to keep thinking about a cancer growing in my body. Three weeks to anticipate, think, worry. And three weeks to help make the transition at the office. Three weeks to prepare things at home for a period of convalescence and recovery. Three weeks to gather reading material for my downtime.

As it turned out, I was almost too busy to have time to think or worry. At the same time, then I worried about whether I was preparing properly mentally without having time to think!

Part IV