December 16th, 2015- I got impatient and called Kaiser looking for my breast biopsy results. I had only had my biopsy performed 2 days before, but I was jumping out of my skin with anticipation. I just wanted them to tell me there was nothing to worry about and I could move on with my life and put all of this behind me. The nurse that took my call was a dead giveaway looking back. I told her I was very nervous and was hoping I could get my results, she pulled me up, pulled up my results and was immediately uncomfortable. “Uh. I’m going to have to have a provider look at your results and call you back, I’m so sorry I cannot release your results.” In record time, my phone rang. I answered the call and heard the callers greeting “Hi, Erin this is Shalom, I am a breast cancer coordinator with Kaiser”. Yes, you read that right. Immediately my heart sank and it felt like I was frozen in time. I could hear her speaking and I seemed to be understanding what she was saying, but time was moving slow, and I could hear my heart beating loudly in-between my ears. She told me I had breast cancer and that it was triple positive and that she had made several appointments for me the 1st being an MRI I needed to have done the next day. I remember her being very kind, but I did not absorb much that she had said to me. She told me that she would be emailing me over everything we talked about so that I would have it to reference. Then she kindly asked if I had any questions. Questions? None that I could verbalize. Am I going to die? How long do I have to live? What about my boys? I just got married, I finally found true love and now he has to watch me die? Does he have to? He didn’t sign up for this, we should get an anulment or divorce so he can live a full and happy life. Oh my God, how am I going to tell my kids that I have cancer? How could God let this happen to me? Why me? I kindly responded to her “Thank you so much for calling me and for all of your help. I will watch for your email. I don’t have any questions I can think of. I’m so sorry I was so impatient and that you had to call me, I’m sure you have a thousand of other things you need to do.”
Wide eyed and still feeling as though the world around me was frozen in time, I walked to my boss’s office and shut the door. She and I locked eyes, I fell into her arms and crumbled into a mess of tears and fear. I don’t really remember driving home, or calling my husband or anyone else to tell the news. I made it home and I sat in my car parked in the driveway. The silence was terrifying and my mind was moving so fast I couldn’t keep up. I saw my husband in the rearview pull up in his truck and make his way to me. I got out and fell into his arms sobbing and shaking. With tears in his eyes he held me and told me he loved me and that we were going to get through this. From here there is a lot of holes in my memory. We did not tell the boys. I needed to know more before I began to walk down that road. I remember going to my MRI, my husband drove me thankfully because time around me was still frozen and I seemed to somehow be moving and going through the motions subconsciously.
A few days after that MRI we went to meet with a general surgeon who sat us down to really explain my pathology and diagnosis. She told us that I would see an oncologist who could better explain things to me, but that I would need a mastectomy and chemo, and that I would lose my hair. Hearing that I would lose my hair was like someone kicking me in the gut. I lost it and starting crying harder than I ever had. I remember her telling me that it was going to be hard, that I would need to write off 1 year of my life to fight this and then things could get back to normal. The world around me was frozen again as we completed this visit. When I got into the car to leave, my phone rang and it was the oncologist office telling me that had a “cancellation” the next morning and they had put me in it. I learned afterwards that this was not true, that he had received my pathology and wanted to get me in ASAP. I can understand that calling someone as fragile as I was and simply stating we really want to get you in ASAP might not be received very well.
I saw my oncologist who explained my pathology and explained that it was hormone receptive and aggressive and that meant that hormone’s where what ”
fed” my cancer and we would need to remove my ovaries. Wait. First you’re going to remove my boobs, make my hair fall out, and then take away my ability to have kids? I’m only 28! We would need to be aggressive to beat this and start right away. How can this happen to me? This isn’t fair. Why me? I slowly looked at Ty with tears falling down my face. My oncologist just told me I couldn’t have anymore children. Ty and I couldn’t have a baby together. I wouldn’t get to see him look into the eyes of our newborn baby. We had waited our whole lives to find each-other, the real love you see in movies or read about in books, and in an instant everything changed. Our love would never waiver, but our “honeymoon” phase quickly turned into
All of that said, I had received my cancer news December 16, 2015 and that date marks my “cancerversary” the anniversary of the day I received that phone call and heard the words ” you have breast cancer”. So why would someone celebrate this? Celebrate a “cancerversary”? Well. The thing is, that day my entire life took a detour, everything changed, and I’m STILL HERE. I realize and appreciate all of the wonderful gifts I’ve been given through this journey, how incredible my marriage is, what a badass I am, and that life is worth celebrating. Some survivors celebrate their “cancerversary” on the date of their mastectomy, or when their oncologist told them that at this time they were NED (no evidence of disease) * because well we don’t ever really get to hear the words “you are cancer free”. Sure each day is still a fight and I still have a lot of treatments, depression, fear, pain, and uphill battles, but I celebrate my ‘cancerversary’ because 4 years ago I got news that could have broke me, but I’m here. I’m watching my kids grow, loving my husband each and everyday as if there is no tomorrow. That is worth celebrating.