"We Think It's Cancer": Why Wearing a Brave Face Is the Only Option When Hit With the Unexpected by Tammy Read
Wallace. That's what my brother and I named it, like William Wallace from the movie Braveheart that wants freedom. Wallace is a mass that was just found in my right breast and he needs to be freed from me.
There are a lot of emotions that come into play when you hear your doctor say, "We think it's cancer." It's not what you were expecting to hear, not even close. It's kind of like getting pulled over by a cop and you hope they are gonna let you go with a warning. Something like "the breast tissue is pretty dense" or "they appear to be harmless cysts." Except they lead with "we found a mass and because of its shape and size, we believe it's cancerous." That's not a warning. That's your first ticket to the hashtag #CancerSucks.
Some people might say that I'm giving it too much power by giving it it's own identity. I am giving it it's own identity because it doesn't identify or define me. I'm still me. I'm happy. I find the bright side to everything. Wallace is only temporarily part of me. I'm exploring all my options to free him from me and I will free Wallace.
I have an amazing support system that listens to me. I don't want to hear "you got this" or "it's gonna be OK." I know it's gonna be fine. I'm certain of it. My husband surrounds me with love and a positive attitude because he knows that's all I want. My friends are trying to get me out doing more before my "untimely demise" (in jest, of course). My boys took it very well and handled it in true "mommy style."
I warned my boys ahead of time that I needed to talk to them at our weekly family night. They already knew about my first abnormal mammogram. It was enough to warrant giving them a chance to prepare. We sat down and ate our takeout while watching an episode of Friends as we always do every Wednesday night. I asked if they wanted to talk first. They preferred to eat and laugh a little first. They told me when they were ready to hear it.
When they were ready I began telling them the lump I found at Christmas was in fact a mass. I had gone through two mammograms and an ultrasound and it was confirmed. The next part was difficult to get out. I'm looking at my two mostly grown sons, but saw them looking back at me as elementary aged little boys. I told them the doctor believes because of the size and shape of the mass, that it is cancerous or that it will become cancerous. They plan to biopsy it the next week, but will also surgically remove it as soon as possible.
I asked my boys if they had any questions or wanted to say anything. There was a moment of silence and then my oldest, my 20-year-old, asked me to confirm the value of my life insurance policy. If you know me, this was not in poor taste. It made me laugh. It made my youngest, my 17-year-old, seem lighter as he joined in on about a 10-minute skit of how they would spend the insurance money. We laughed and resumed family night with two more episodes of Friends.
I'm OK. It will be OK. I got this. My family will survive whatever happens next. We will do it with positivity and humor. Wallace will be freed! My family and I will go on.
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