This is not how I like to start my conversations. I cringe when I hear the words in my head, even. I’m still struggling with this. Unfortunately, I had to tell this to those I love.
The days following my diagnosis, I wanted nothing else but to hurry up and call everyone, tell them about my cancer and get it over with. It’s not something I can keep a secret and I’d rather them hear it from me directly.
It’s bittersweet calling the people you love and throwing something like this out there. It’s joyous to have that connection again, but it’s so hard to interrupt that time and tell them about the awful news. We would catch up quickly on our families but then, I had to throw an emotional hand grenade at them. Every time I had to tell someone, I felt their heart breaking for me. It was so hard for me to do this. Normally, I try to cheer people up. Don’t get me wrong, I bitch about life just like anyone does, then, they have a turn and we try to cheer each other up by offering helpful advice or just laughing at ourselves. This is friendship and love. But, having to throw a big bomb like that was the opposite of what I would ever want to do. Everyone handles this part differently. Some people tell only immediate family and then those people tell more people from there. I’ve even heard of people saying nothing to their family members, even going through chemo, etc. without saying a word. I can’t imagine this. I can’t imagine trying to hold all of, well….everything in. All of your emotions and your physical side effects. I could never do this. I’m a pretty open book. I try to be open and honest with people, and I hope to get that in return. I see my friends and most of my family not as often as I would like. Between kids, distance, and just life in generally, this happens to the best of us. But, personally, if I was on the other end of the phone, I would be grateful to have received a call directly instead of hearing through the grapevine. Or worse yet, seeing it on Facebook. Ironically, I post on Facebook every once in a while. Not frequently at all. My children still look like infants on Facebook. (I might be exaggerating a tiny bit) and still appear still 25 pounds lighter. You get the idea. (A bit ironic since now I am blogging about my life on the internet for the world to see).
It would have been easier to tell people that I had ‘breast cancer’. I didn’t have to say Inflammatory Breast Cancer. But, I started my calls with my siblings, of course. They live in different parts of the country so had to call them to tell the news. They were the hardest to tell. I replay those conversations in my head and they break my heart. They had never heard of it. Then I called my two friend I have had since I was a toddler and the other since I was 8. Neither had heard of it. Then, friends I see more frequently. Never heard of it. It snowballed. I was determined to tell people about this deadly shitty rare breast cancer that no one had even heard of. We didn’t know skin changes on your breast could have anything to do with breast cancer. We didn’t know that an MRI was a better diagnostic tool tool and that mammograms can be useless for this kind of cancer. Those things alone are scary. Unfortunately, the more they learned, the more scary it is. By the time I was done, I was exhausted. I felt better though. I felt as if I had a tiny support system. Everyone offered help and prayers. Some people, whom I didn’t expect, have forward and have become closer to me. Other people I don’t talk to often enough send me flowers, or a gift card. Simple text messages come daily. They warm my heart. Just a simple hi… a simple check in. These little things make me feel stronger. And I need strength these days.