I have “flipped” several houses in my life and always loved that challenge. But I remember one particular house that was in such disrepair and needed so much work, it was absolutely overwhelming. In order to have the tenacity to complete the job, I had to break the restoration of this house into very small projects and celebrate each and every victory. When I looked at the whole picture, I knew I would never finish it. But when I celebrated finishing a room or a project at a time, it energized me. Finally, after many celebrations of small accomplishments, the house was complete and turned out to be a profitable endeavor with a victorious ending. And so I remember that house tonight, and the lessons I learned from it.
I have now completed the Diagnostic Phase of my Breast Cancer journey. That includes the horror of the discovery of the lump and facing my own mortality for the very first time. Then the first visit to my family doctor, and the subsequent mammogram. Denise, the Radiologist wants to speak with you and your breath catches in your lungs. So you meet the Radiologist still in your mammogram robe with the strings you don’t know where to tie, and he tells you that definitely there is “something there” and more underneath that definitely need to be biopsied. It concludes the actual biopsy and waiting for the dreaded call that you knew in your soul was coming. The morning your family doctor calls and tells you, “Denise, it is not good.” She didn’t need to say anymore as she has been my doctor since I was in my 20s. I knew what that meant.
It concludes making the call to the University of Michigan Breast Cancer Center, gathering the records from my local hospital and going into the Cancer Center for the first time. I had to breathe very deeply because if I didn’t, I knew I would faint for the first time in my life when I realized I was now a patient in a Cancer Center. Now finished is the all-day visit with a team of doctors who elaborated very clearly on what “Denise, it is not good” really involved.
Drawing to a close is when the news was delivered that I needed a mastectomy, lymph node removal, chemotherapy, radiation and reconstructive surgery. But the biggest conclusion is from all of those dreaded tests – the bloodwork, the CT Scan and the bone scan and waiting for the telephone calls. Oh, we see something on the bone scan. There is alot of uptake on two spots. MRI time for 90 minutes in the tube. And more waiting. And then the good news starts – organs clear including your brain, spine is okay, but still a little question on a leg bone. Time for a plain, old-fashioned x-ray!
It concludes the final call, oh you do have a little spot on your femur but surgeon and oncologist agree, it looks benign. No biopsy.
And so I ask you to celebrate with me! We’ve come a long way. I couldn’t have done it on my own. God pointed the way and friends and family held me up. Thank you!! There are many more celebrations to come!