Sunday, July 25, 2010

How were we to know?

Do you have a day that is engraved in your mind of something that happened that you will never forget?! I have a lot of those. Days where things happened that remain etched in my memory bank. Days I will never forget as long as I live. This evening I was sitting here at home and I had a flashback to one of those days. One of those days that I wish never would have happened.

It was early in the morning. I was getting Drew and Emma ready for school so it was hectic of course. Looking for shoes and coats. Trying to pack lunches and bookbags. Doing all of the things that should have been done the night before. I got a text message. It was from an old friend. A friend who I met when I was just 5 years old. A friend who I always considered more like my sister. It was my friend Jennifer who had recently found out she was going to be a Mommy after years of trying.  The text just said "Call me when you get a chance."  I hadn't talked to Jenn in awhile so I thought it was strange to get a text like that. So I didn't wait. Even though I was crazy busy, I called her.

When I called her, she answered right away. We talked for a minute. Then she said she had something to tell me. I asked what it was. She told me to sit down. I thought maybe she was going to tell me that the fertility drugs had made her pregnant with quadruplets or something. Of course a million exciting things were going through my head. "Are you sitting down?" She asked. "YES!" I said. But I lied. I wasn't sitting down. I was running around the house trying to get things together for the kids. Silence on the other end. "Well?" I asked. What is it? And I never could have prepared myself for those next 4 words. "I have breast cancer" she told me. Whew. I was relieved. I was relieved because I knew it was a mistake. We are only in our late 20's. No way could it be cancer. Must be a mistake, right? We are too young to get cancer. 20 somethings don't get cancer. That's something that happens to women in their 40's and 50's.  Nothing bad happens to us. We are invincible! But I was wrong. So very wrong.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer. The rarest form of Breast Cancer a woman can get. So rare that even experts don't know much about it. A form of breast cancer that hits mostly young women, even teenagers.  A quick moving, aggressive breast cancer that cannot be detected by mammograms, breast exams or ultrasounds. No way of knowing it's there. It grows in nests or sheets, rather than as a confined, solid tumors so there's no lump.   Most of the time it goes undetected. Symptoms will finally arise and will be similar to a breast infection or mastitis. Most Doctors won't suspect IBC. They will try to treat it with an antibiotic. Most symptoms in young women appear during times of major hormonal change such as pregnancy. Symptoms include swelling, usually sudden, sometimes a cup size in a few days. Itching. Pink, red or dark colored area. Ridges and thickened areas of skin. Nipple retraction. Breast pain. Warm to the touch. Inflammatory Breast Cancer. How was it that I was 27 and had 3 children at that time and had not ever heard of such a cancer?  A cancer that any woman could have and not even know it?

And despite the treatments. Despite all of the pain. A miracle was born. Sweet Little Eli. Born healthy despite the chemo therapy. Born with a full head of hair. Born several weeks early but perfectly healthy. A true little miracle straight from Heaven.

Looking at his pictures makes me smile. He's such a lucky little boy who has a really awesome Mommy.

I can't really describe the feeling I had in my stomach on that day. In my throat. In my heart. Sadness. Fear. Nausea. Pain. How? Why?  Such a beautiful person, inside and out. Someone who was supposed to be experiencing the joy of being pregnant, finally after so many years.  Chemo. Radiation. Surgeries. And the cancer remains. More chemo. More radiation. The cancer still is not gone. And yet she smiles. And believes. And laughs. And loves. And I cry. I cry because I can't do anything. Because I don't understand. Because I want to lash out and ask God why. I scream inside. Life isn't fair. This isn't the way things were supposed to happen. And yet it happened. And we can't change it. And we can ask why but we won't ever get an answer. But I love my friend. And I miss her. And I wish I could see her more often. And I wish things could go back to when we were young. Before the cancer. When life was simple. And I wish I could take her pain away. I pray to God every night to help her. To help her get through each day. To help give her strength to keep fighting. To keep believing. She's my hero. And she amazes me.

Oh to be 16 again.

So many memories I now cherish even more.

Nope. Never will I forget that day. The day I learned that cancer sucks.


  1. That's hard. I had a student that got breast cancer at age 18. I cried. It's not an easy thing to go through!

    I agree with the last comment (((HUGS)))

  2. so sorry...cancer is awful I lost my mom to it when I was only 7. I really hope your friend kicks its butt!

  3. WOw IM sorry to hear about your friends situation. It is hard but now adays the treatments they have so many people recover i am praying and believing that your friend will get through this. And what a beautiful lil Boy SUCH bright eyes. Gods GIFT! Thanks for the story I believe by you taking the time to print this story will inspire others to just be aware! GET THE MAMMOGRAMS GET THE PAPS YEARLY!!! And also contribute to the American Cancer society!! GOD BLESS

  4. I am so sorry to hear that. Please let her know that there is an amazing online support group for young women (under the age of 40 at diagnosis) that are diagnosed with breast cancer.
    Also, I know from personal experience (I was diagnosed two years ago at the age of 30)how traumatizing and horrible breast cancer can be. If you or her wants to talk/email/text about anything, I am here.


I love comments!! Thanks for taking the time!