I have been going long enough that I have started to recognize the faces: the newly diagnosed, the good news faces, the bad news faces, and the indifferent faces just trying to look cool as they sit often in a solitary way waiting for their name to be called.
While I was waiting to be seen, we saw a young woman who had just had her surgery but who didn’t have the all clear and has to have another surgery. I did not want to pry, but I think her margins post surgery weren’t clean enough, which meant a follow-up surgery.
She was young, pretty and with her husband – she was also quite obviously a young mom. I spoke to her -I couldn’t help it as I recognized that look in her eyes. Not my fears per se, but you start to recognize that unmistakable look of fear meets panic. You can’t help it, and I think every woman goes there.
This woman had a lovely smile when she smiled briefly thru the tears.
Yes, she is facing another surgery and possibly a mastectomy. I had this overwhelming urge to hug a perfect stranger when I looked into her face and saw the look in her eyes. But I didn’t, I didn’t want to freak her out. But we spoke, and I told her one day at a time and she would get through it.
Her husband was so amazing and supportive and as total strangers, my sweet man and I could feel the depth and breadth of their love and commitment to each other. It was almost painful to bear to see such sweetness in the face of their obviously incredibly difficult day.
I told her my name and she told me hers, and in the emotion of the moment, I have now completely forgotten. So if she reads this blog some day, I want her to know I am sending her a virtual hug and that she is in my thoughts for a good recovery and a long and healthy life as a survivor.
When she left an older woman sitting next to her said I was so nice to have spoken to her. How can we not pay it forward here? I couldn’t as a human being have NOT reached out. I remember the fear I had when I was first diagnosed and when I first sat in that waiting room waiting to lay out my surgery, and then afterwards waiting to find out about my margins and lymph nodes and then the oncotype, even being there with my sweet man to support me (and my mother), I would have given anything for one of those women in that waiting room in my earlier days to have said “Hey you can do this.” Maybe a big unrealistic dork moment on my part, but it is how I felt.
All our cancers of the breast are as individualistic as we are as individual women, but you can’t help but get some of the emotions you see play out.
As I sat and waited for my appointment I looked around the room at women all ages and all walks of life with the commonality of this disease. It stuns me to silence every damn time. There were women older than I, some of a similar age and another woman who struck me appeared rather young and came with her mother. This woman’s mother was dozing in her work uniform waiting to go in with her daughter.
These waiting rooms we wait in are like being a voyeur in one-act plays of other women’s lives. And there but for the grace of God go I, indeed. I could have been that woman facing a second surgery so close on the heels of her first. I am truly blessed that I am not that girl, and I will keep that woman in my thoughts. It is my belief that she will fight, but it will be hard for her. But she has a family and a husband who obviously loves her to the moon and back, so I hope I see her again some day when the clouds have lifted.
As I watched and recognize the shell-shocked faces along with all the others , I am really glad to be thru that great unknown of the early days. And speaking of unknown, as I wait for my oncologist and gynecologist to pow-wow over me and Tamoxifen, I am struck once again how damn lucky I am thus far. Even my sweet man remarked upon it. I am not taking that for granted.
I get my first post everything mammogram next March, with an MRI to follow in May.
I will tell you what – Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s will be very special to me this year.
Love you all.
St. Brigit’s Blessing
May Brigid Bless the House where in you dwell.
Bless every fireside every wall and door.
bless every heart that beats beneath its room.
Bless every hand that toils to bring it joy.
Bless every foot that walks its portals through.
May Brigid bless the house that shelters you.