Today is an anniversary of sorts. Two years ago, I received the phone call. It seems much longer than two years ago, and I have never really talked about it, so this is my recollection of that time. The phone call was from my doctor telling me the biopsy done a couple of days earlier was positive and that I had breast cancer. I remember needing to sit down because my knees collapsed. I remember that I wanted to ask questions, but I couldn't form them in my brain, much less in my mouth, so I was silent. Most of all, I remember thinking...this can't be happening, this can't be happening, this CANNOT be happening. You were upstairs taking a nap, and I wanted to run to you and hold you. All I could think about, even in that initial moment, was you. What would this mean for your future?
The doctors discussed my options for treatment. For me, the decision was simple...what course would best ensure that I would be around to mother you for a long, long time? Surgery was scheduled as soon as the doctors and hospital could coordinate, but it was two long weeks away...two weeks of disbelief, fear and anger, with certainly some self-pity mixed in.
During those two weeks, my head told me to get the Christmas shopping done, fill the freezer with meals, etc...but my heart wisely told me to spend every waking second with you, knowing that for six weeks following the surgery, I would be unable to pick you up (I made it 3 1/2). We took your nine-month photos (shown above). Just look at your smile! That sweet smile got my through those days.
As I looked down upon you sleeping in your crib the morning of my surgery, the tears flowed freely. I wrote you a letter that morning, too. Of all the letters I have written you, that one was the most difficult. It is tucked in your special box for you to read some day.
My goal was to have your life as unaffected as possible during that time of chaos. Even if I couldn't be there with you while I was in the hospital, you could hear my recorded voice reading your favorite books or singing your favorite songs. And then later...even if I couldn't pick you up out of your crib, I was going to be standing there next to the person who could. Even if I couldn't get on the floor and play with you, you could get in bed next to me. The rally of people who helped was overwhelming...from bringing meals to acting as nurses. I didn't have to think about anything except healing. I am eternally grateful to those who helped.
The surgery was rough, but the result was just what we had hoped and prayed for: the cancer had not spread, there was no lymph node involvement, and there were clean margins. After the healing/reconstruction process, I would be fine. The odds of it never coming back are greater than 90%.
While anniversaries are usually celebrated to mark happy occasions, sometimes it's important to mark the challenging times as well...as a reminder of how quickly the rug can be pulled out from under you, as a reminder of how vitally important the support of friends and family is, as a reminder to not sweat the small stuff, as a reminder of the strength of faith and hope, as a reminder of how precious life really is.