Today … Now … Here … THE CALL … “You have Breast Cancer”. There was no question about it. Every instinct says cry, but you have prayed against hope that the additional and heretofore unnecessary radiological tests or screenings are precautionary. You had had a benign tumor in the other breast about seven years earlier and a lumpectomy took care of it. Annual mammograms had shown normal, so your decision a year ago to go to a two-year cycle seemed prudent. After all, we hear about radiological exposure not being the best of things for us all the time. It is against this backdrop you have decided to stay quiet and not report to family and friends that you are under-going additional levels of testing. Why scare the crap out of your parents and friends, sounding false alarms. Then, boom … the cold edge of reality hits you in the head.
There was no “oh my God not me.” As it goes, we were “brunching” at one of our family favorite restaurants in Northern California. At the table are your husband (he knows about the tests and awaits the results with you), your son and his wife (they know about the tests but had been told that these were no big deal), their baby girl (who is too young to understand), and your god-daughter (who knows nothing) and her little lady (just shy of 4 years old). How do you dare shed a tear? Or, even gasp? There was no fooling the husband. He instantly read me. My son read him. And honestly, I don’t know what my god-daughter thought as I felt like a truck had run me over. My husband, William, tells me I handled the conversation with the doctor remarkably.
The Lee Family Thanksgiving Dinner was early this year because our son and his family had flown up north to be with us and introduce our lovely granddaughter to the Sacramento family. They would then head back south for Thanksgiving with his wife and her family. This family gathering would be later in the evening. We were stealing a moment to be with our grand god-daughter and god-daughter. We finished breakfast without saying much although family conversation didn’t feel quite as natural. Here we are standing outside the restaurant with our son and his family saying good-bye to our god-daughter with my husband and I holding on to each other for dear life. This was not the best place or time to talk things over, but I needed to explain the doctors call and report to him. So we waited until after saying good-bye to our god-daughters, we would speak with her later along with her parents and her sister, who we happily adopted as our second god-daughter. This family, the Gladysz family, is indistinguishable from our nuclear family.
Our doctor had a partial report only, I had fast-moving breast cancer. He did not want me to wait through the full, traditional Thanksgiving Holidays to hear the results. This compassionate man and amazing professional had made a good choice. Not getting all of the details in this first phone call was tough, but waiting out Thanksgiving Week would have been even tougher. Time to gather the family and let them know. When do you lay this bomb shell on them? It’s our Thanksgiving Dinner. We had already let my mother know. She was the first to know outside those who were with me at brunch. Mom was to be our car buddy on the way over our Niece Robin’s home and telling her in advance of the evening was the proper thing to do.
I chose to take the family aside in small groups throughout the evening. Repeating the same news over and over to individual after individual did not appeal to me. I asked my husband to share the news with his family who were coming over for dinner. Tough news aside, the family dinner was special. Being able to talk with so many members of the family all at once turned out to be a godsend for me. Done. The news was out in the open. Now time to focus in on me, my husband and my kids, my immediate family which includes our extended family and kids as well. The next days would be difficult as we made contact with those we have shared a lifetime of memories with. We needed to begin thinking about changes to our very hectic lifestyle. William was in Southern California doing grandpa daycare in between visits to the couch and bed because of his health issues. I was living in Northern California so I could be close to my mom to help her. She is 89 years old this year and fast approaching 90 years old. My precious customers were on my radar. A project manager doesn’t disengage quickly, especially when projects are well down the road. Primary residences in Southern California, extended digs in Northern California, medical providers in Southern California, and one long 500-mile interstate in-between all of these. Oh my … the web we weave.
One last call. Our daughter Michelle and her family were not able to make this trip. I needed to speak with her in a quiet place by phone. That was a hard call to make. My immediate family would hear from me in person, face to face. Something about telling your daughter news like this over the phone just doesn’t feel proper.
No doubt, we embark on a new journey! Tomorrow will truly be a new day.