Telling someone bad news is never easy. Do we think it is easier when they are sitting down? That classic line has a tendency to strike immediate fear in someone. A dread takes over. But here I was making that very same statement over and over again to my family and friends. It was non-stop calls when I returned home that day. A phone call to my Dad and Step-Mom was frankly made easier because I did not have to see their expression which I expect was sadness and fear for what was about to happen. I told them to please go ahead and have your party! The guests look forward to my Dad’s famous guacamole, blue cheese dip, my Step-Mom’s mini cherry cheesecakes and the BIGGEST shrimp cocktail you have ever seen. I’ll need to do a separate post just on their Holiday party as they have party-throwing down to a science. The shrimp cocktail has to be passed out at 2 different times. If it were just placed at the table they would dissapear in 5 minutes and not everyone would get one. Really, it’s an art the way they throw a party. But I digress…….
I was able to maintain my compure even while telling my Mom who came over. She was so very strong and after a long pause said, “Well. ok, we know what needs to happen and you’ll get through this. Let me know how I can help and we’ll get started.” Funny, while going through this and telling my parents; I forgot I was 49 and instantly became 11 again. It is hard at this age to admit you need help; let alone from your Parents. However, they want to. I will always be there for my girls and help them in any way I can. It is ingrained in us as parents I am sure. So no matter what age, my parents want to help. I am thankful they are able to. I know when the time comes I will be there to help them.
My best friend Pernille came over and I had her sit down. Over a cup of tea I told her and she started to cry. Boy was that tough. I had not cried much at all up until that point. Another close friend Veronica came over and more tears were shed. She lost her Sister to cancer only 1 year ago, so this was all too fresh for her. When you see the reaction of family and friends, you realize; “Wow, this is serious. This is real.”
Now for the girls……Emma was away at school in Philly. In the middle of finals. I had a slight hesitation, as I did not want to interrupt her studies and jeopardize her exams, but it had too be done. I had to tell her. My Aunt passed away of breast cancer when she is in her 40’s and her kids were in high school. As a family, despite being small, and pretty close, we never talked about her cancer. Not with her, not with my Grandmother, not with my cousins. No one went to therapy or a support group. Nothing. That bothered me and still does. Talking about illness is important. Not healthy to sweep those feelings under the rug. After letting my ex-husband know what was going on (I am very lucky we have a very good relationship), we agreed to tell Emma and Zoe together that night. We face-timed Emma while Zoe sat next to me and told them at the same time. Zoe started to cry and buried her face in my chest. She held on and would not let go. Emma was pretty serious. Some friends were in the room with her (which I am thankful for) and I saw her glance up at them when we told her. At one point Jim changed the subject and she got very upset and said, “Don’t change the subject.” Gosh I did not want to say goodbye to her. I felt pretty helpless and hoped we got across to her that …”this surgery was very straightforward.” and that, “I have a great medical team and a great support system at home. Just concentrate on your studies and kick ass on your finals!” (She actually got an A on an essay due shortly after our conversation! phew).
Friday morning arrived and I set my alarm for a bright and early call. Need ed to get ready for work. Yes, I went to work the day after being told I had cancer. I did not want to sit at home and worry. I had things to do at work, loose ends to tie up as they say. Needed to tell more people. I made a pot of coffee and cooked up one of my favorite breakfasts; Scrambled Eggs with Veggies with a side of toasted Seven Stars Bakery Country Bread.
I got work and realized that my boss was out on the road and one of my close co-workers was on vacation. I had to call my boss and hope that she was not driving seeing as she was already “sitting down”. Really all I wanted to do was play scrabble at my desk with these cool Cheese-Its.
I was hoping for a triple word score and a 10point letter but no, not today.
HR was very understanding and sympathetic. They told me they would miss me but not to rush back till fully healed and more importantly assured me that my job would be here waiting for me when I got back. I mustered more composure and informed my fellow customer service reps that I would be gone for a bit and that I would not be able to help with the Minions for a little while! :).
After work I went to the The Providence Athenaeum to take out some books to read while at home recovering. I tried to read a magazine but could not focus.
Saturday blurred by. Love to say the same about Sunday but no, I had an MRI first thing in the morning. Before breakfast and before…..COFFEE. The Hospital was quiet as I checked and was motioned to the basement for the exam. Way, way down on the last floor at the end of a long, long cavernous hallway was the MRI room. Would it be a huge tube? Could I listen to music? Would I freak out while in the tube? What will they find? What will they see? All going thru my head as the cheery receptionist asked me to put on the special MRI pajamas. (I actually raved about the pants so much I got to take them home.) The tech called me in and I noticed that the tube really was not all that long. Did not seem like it would consume me. “Can I listen to music” I asked. “Anything you like.” they said. “Just tell us we’ll find it for you and pipe it in.” Now I LOVE music. Not a day goes by that does not include music being played in the apartment and the car. For the life of me though I could not pick something out!!! Finally I said, “Jazz, find me some jazz please. But NOT Kenny G! No smooth jazz.!” If I was gonna be in this damn tube for an hour I wanted it to be good. Wouldn’t you know it, in between the robot voice instructing me to “TAKE A DEEP BREATH IN AND HOLD IT……” all I could hear was the same saxophone refrain over and over and over……”UGH! Make it stop!” “DEEP BREATH IN AND HOLD.” To make matters worse (as if having no coffee yet was not enough), the tech came out to put the iv in to inject the special dye….my vein collapsed. Twice, she had to reinsert the needle in my arm. Lovely….sax refrain, over and over……Thank god I had those snazzy pants to make it all worthwhile.
Monday was a whirlwind day of tests, blood work and a pre op appointment. My Parents called and said they were prepared to come down and help out and when did I want them? I told them to hold off till Tuesday. Honestly they were ready to come down on Saturday, but you know what? When they get here, when they come down, that makes it all REAL. I was just going thru the motions till Wednesday. To get calm, to focus, to help me breathe, I walked my daughter and her friends to school Monday and Tuesday. These girls were officially anointed my cheerleaders. How can I be sad and scared and worried when I see these smiles?
“Go Jen!” they cheered and off they went to their classes. I wasn’t scared anymore.