96 Hours Later

It’s been 96 hours since I was first told that I have a strong likelihood of breast cancer. 96 hours. Four days. It feels like a lifetime ago that things felt normal. And yet, I feel like I’m still in this bubble of uncertainty, because I don’t have an official diagnosis. I’m speaking with people who want to know specifics about my cancer, and I have to backtrack, qualify my explanations with the fact that we are still waiting on the biopsy results. Yes, they think it’s breast cancer. But yes, it could still be nothing. I don’t know.

Grief is such a strange, strange companion. And thus far, I think my reaction to this news has been somewhat atypical. I feel energized, strangely, and have hit the ground running, gathering documents and organizing our house, researching doctors, and treatments, gathering information and statistics and learning medical terminology. Fueled by adrenaline and coffee, I’ve started spreadsheets and pored over insurance benefits, compiled necessary healthcare documents and records, and purchased a binder to keep everything in one place.

The stages of grief are almost never linear. It worries me quite a bit that I jumped so quickly into “acceptance.” Where was anger? Where was bargaining? As I sat at home on Friday, I kept thinking about all of the struggles I’ve had with my body over my lifetime thus far, how, as a young woman, an athlete, and a new mother, your body can feel like a war zone. I thought about the fact that I might lose one, or both, breasts. And I felt ok. Don’t get me wrong, I felt, and still feel extraordinarily sad about it, nervous about the procedure, and frightened about the whole situation. But I am ready.

My breasts have never been a huge part of my self-image. And I am grateful that they nursed my son for 18 months. But I have never felt so at peace with my body as I have in the last few days. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am fighting for my body, and not against it. Old feuds have been set aside to join hands against a common enemy. I’ve had extensive bruising and swelling from the biopsy. The amount of bruising that showed up over the days subsequent was frightening, a line item in the list of frightening things to think about now. But the swelling slowly went down, and the bruising is slowly turning from blackish purple to green, to blue, and fading. I can’t help but think that my body has the healing capacity far beyond my understanding. The bruising and swilling has been traumatic, and won’t be the last trauma to my breast and body, but it eases and fades. There is a lot of comfort in that, to me.

Tomorrow I will get the biopsy results. I will, for all intents and purposes, receive an official cancer diagnosis. Today, I have struggled a bit. I keep wondering if I’m overreacting, if I have prematurely mobilized my friends and family for support. If I have caused too much heartache and fear for too many people. And I don’t know. in 24 hours, I will, but for now, I just sit and wait.



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