Tomorrow marks two years. April 13th, 2012, a phone call.
Communication is always a good thing, but sometimes a conversation can turn your world on a dime. That cancer call that first creates fear, then if you handle it as adeptly as my wife did, you take action, enact a radical change, kick its ass and move on, or at least as much as you can after surviving the transformation of your physical being, and the never-ending emotional journey of living with the consequences and the new you. Stronger, sometimes stranger, always…survivor.
The following excerpt is the journal entry I wrote that day on the pages of Caringbridge.com, and which is now part of Chapter One in the book, It Takes 2. Surviving Breast Cancer: A Spouse’s Story. It does take two, and it’s hard to believe that tomorrow marks two years since that day.
Cancer-free day is May 10th, the day of the double mastectomy, and from now until that day, the Kindle and Paperback versions of It Takes 2 have been reduced significantly, with all royalties for the next month being donated to Caringbridge.org, where my journal first began and which relies completely on donations to allow others to share their own stories online. Here now the excerpt from, It Takes 2.
April 13, 2012
I don’t even remember what she said; I just remember where I was.
Friday the 13th, April 2012. This is a day we will never forget. I’m at my car, parked just outside the bank on this beautiful Friday morning. I had just popped the trunk for some reason and was standing outside looking in when the cell phone rang. It was Debbie. And she was sad.
Sad is an understatement. I could hear it through her tears, a garbled, quick explanation that the radiologist had called, and it wasn’t benign, it was malignant, or maybe she used the word cancer. I honestly don’t remember. All I knew was Debbie was at work, and I was miles away. I couldn’t get to her at that moment. I couldn’t hold her, all I could do was listen to her fear and pain through the phone and through those tears. I felt like I was standing in quicksand. I hopped back in the car, because it was windy and I couldn’t hear all of what Debbie was saying. She said the radiologist called her at work and said he wanted to talk to her … then he asked if she was sitting down! She knew then it was not going to be a great moment. He said the pathology report showed a malignancy inside her nipple duct, cancer in-situ, but the concern was the invasive tumor outside the duct, that was a bigger issue. Then I heard the phone cut out.
It was Debbie’s call-waiting. Someone was calling in, either her mom, or her sister, or a good friend. I don’t know, I don’t remember, but Debbie wanted to take the call. She said she would call me right back. Sure, just like any other day. Except today wasn’t like any other day, neither will be the days to come, I’m sure. Life has done what life does—throws down the gauntlet and then look you straight in the eye and ask, “Okay, what are you going to do now?”
I’ll tell you what I was going to do—I was going to get to Debbie. So I started driving. Where was I going? I wasn’t sure. Deb was a good 30 miles away at work, and was she staying, or going? Was I going home? What about my two daughters? What about my mother-in-law, a breast cancer survivor herself, what was she thinking? What about my sister-in-law? What was going on? What was the next move? I wasn’t sure at that moment; I was just sure I was driving.
Then the phone rang. Debbie was calling back.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step. The wheels were in motion. Debbie said her sister, Alisa, was already making calls to doctors. Alisa, G-d bless her, when a crisis strikes, is all over it. She takes charge, and her baby sister had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, so she wasn’t messing around. Neither was their mom, Sharon. My mother-in-law’s boyfriend, Lloyd, has a connection, and, through that connection, we have a shot at getting in to see one of the best breast cancer surgeons in Baltimore.
I now had an answer as to my destination. I had not dared make a single call, for fear of missing Debbie’s next one. She was leaving work, and we would meet up at a restaurant near our home. A couple of close friends were headed there, as well. I needed to see Debbie, and they wanted to see her, too. In just those few minutes after the call that started it all, the outpouring of support and love was already in full swing.
Debbie and I pulled up in the parking lot at almost the same time. I got out and went around to her car, and we embraced. Deb had calmed down since the phone call, maybe reassured that steps were already being taken to get in to see a doctor and discuss what was going to happen next. It felt good to hold her for even a moment, and, in that moment, I knew it was somehow going to be okay, although not sure exactly how, or why, but we will be victorious in the end.
Love is the most powerful healing force in the world. It’s like a drug, like medicine for the soul, and this love is going to make a difference in whatever is going to come next. We will not be defeated. Life will go on. My wife, my daughters, will be okay. This story will have a very different ending than the one that had been written just three years earlier when we lost Debbie’s dad to cancer. I know it with every part of my being. We are going to win.
Thanks for caring,
To purchase: It Takes 2, visit www.spouses-story.com (and click on Where to Buy The Book) or www.amazon.com/author/markbrodinsky