Friday, February 10, 2012

Not Without a Fight . . .Part 5 - Finale

I am sure I was given instructions, but who can remember anything after that.  I get dressed and just exit.  I keep my head low and walk quickly to the car for fear I might embarrass myself with tear stained cheeks or heaven forbid I just loose it.

By the time I am home again, I am composed.  I have a million things going through my mind, but on the outside I am calm.  I think I should start doing video messages to the boys about how much I love them.  Give them some life lessons, like those that have been on Oprah do.  Maybe I should write them a note for them to read at graduation, wedding and birth of their first child. I wonder will Jake even remember me.  Will my long blond locks fall out?  Will this scare my oldest son?  Will this be all he remembers? What kind of toll will this take on them?

My husband and I never let on to anyone what we were going through.  I would just sit still in the media room pretending to watch a movie but really preparing myself for the possible out comes. I withdrew from everyone.  I just could not put on a happy face or cheerful voice to fake it!

Next day - no call from the lab.  Don't they get I am freaking out here?  This is just a job.

Day after that, again no call.  I call the lab and am told to call back after 2.  I am Johnny on the spot - 2 on the dot.  No news.  I call at 4:57 before they head home for the night.  Nothing!  I think great - they are going home for a fun evening and I sit here wondering if I have a fight for my life on my hands!  I snuggle extra hard and extra long, please let them remember this. I sign the song Jake loves until he is asleep and snuggle in with Scoots until he is asleep.

Friday 8:01am - "no ma'am, we do not have the results yet.  We will call you."  By now the lady who answers the phones and I are best friends.  I call at 11am - no news.  2pm - no news, but she promises to call me.  4:03pm I got the call.

I was outside.  It was a beautiful day, not too cold, not too hot, perfect for a sweatshirt around the neck.  I was hunting supplies to build a fall display for the entry glass table.  I had the phone on me.  I had done everything with the phone attached to me the last few days.  I was alone, in the yard and in my head.  All my thoughts were consumed with this call.  And she called.

She starts with "Mrs. Portela?"  "This is she" I say.  I can see on caller ID it is the hospital.  She responds back with "Is this the Jennifer Portela who had a biopsy on Tuesday at Presbyterian Hospital?" "Yes it is" with barely any strength in my voice I answwered.  I am not sure what she said next.  All I remember is "non-malignant".  I ask her some questions attempting to clarify what she said.  Making sure I understood . . . Non-Malignant!  She did say non-malignant . . . right? I ask her to fax the report to my home as soon as possible.  I want proof.
I come back in the house.  My husband is in his study.  He sees my face and stops what he is doing.  I share the news from my phone call.  He is still the only person that knows.  We hug and there are tears.  He makes some corny joke.  We decided to continue to keep it private.  No need to alarm our family.

I had to go back at 6 months to make sure nothing had changed.  Everyday I prayed nothing had changed.  Playing football with my son, I get hit in the chest . . . I would worry.  Giving Jake a bath leaning over the tub . . . I would worry.  Any soreness . . . I would worry.

I was nervous as hell to go back at 6 months, but I didn't waste one extra day.  I had already been given good news that it wasn't malignant and that we just needed to watch it.  I was now expecting the other shoe to drop, but it didn't.

Nothing was different from the first scan.  I have been back twice since then.  Again, there are no changes.  The report I got just last week still says, no changes.

I am grateful for a boring report.  I am thrilled nothing has changed. Stagnat is good when it comes to possible breast cancer.

Having my life put into question, I believe, made me a better mommy, wife and friend.  I learned that so quickly life can change.  That everyone has their own challenges in life, none are any easier than the next. That no one is going to get out of this life without a few bumps, bruises and gut checks.

I have long been a supporter of Susan G. Komen, easily for 20 years.  I have participated in numerous 5K/1 mile fun runs.  I have t-shirts and memories from those early Saturday mornings, and the pounds from the pancake breakfast immediately after it. 

Our family make a yearly financial donation to this organization.  SGK was there for women with breast cancer long before anyone else cared to talk about it.

Each October the Susan G. Komen walkers pass our home and I am overwhelmed by them.  Overwhelmed by all the women who fought and continue to fight for their lives.  For their husband's who were there to care for them and love them through this.  For the children who still have a mommy and for those that don't.  For the thousands of walker who just care enough to make a difference. 

They walk with their heads held high, dressed in crazy get-ups, having fun.  Every step is a celebration of life.  A celebrate that we are here today and we are planning for tomorrow. 

I support Susan G. Komen for so many reasons:

1 – Out of loving memory for my grandmother.  She was stricken with breast cancer twice and beat it both times. I am thankful that somewhere there was money to do the research which led to a treatment that extended her life. Thankful for everyday she was here.

2 – For my girlfriends who are fighting it their way – I love you all and have so much respect for you and your families.

3 – Because one day that may be me who is needing treatment.

Our family supports them because they are making a difference.

PLEASE schedule your mammogram today.  If you get news you weren't expecting, know there are thousands of women to support you on your journey . . . walking to bring attention to our cause, fundraising to find a cure and there to lend an ear or provide a hug.  AND then you call me.  I will be there . . . and we will fight it your way!

UPDATE:  ALL of these beautiful women are thriving.  All are living life to the fullest.  I am so grateful for such wonderful examples of what life can be like after a diagnosis of cancer.

Here is an update from my Elementary School Friend . . .
As I write this, I am reminded it has been four years since receiving the dreaded news. I was three months pregnant and I had breast cancer. I am winning a battle that could have robbed me of everything in my life, my wonderful marriage, and my beautiful children. Breast cancer has made me strong and it has connected me to people that will forever impact my life. I am thankful for research and technology because without it I would not have been able to carry my precious baby girl, in-utero, through a mastectomy and chemo. Caroline will be 4 in July. I also have been empowered by genetic testing and have the BRCA 2 mutation, so I was able to remove my remaining healthy breast and have a hysterectomy/oophyrectomy soon after giving birth to reduce recurrence and new cancer chances. I will be 40 this year and I believe in my heart, and my doctor is in agreement, I have at least 40 more years left in me.

1 comment:

  1. I love you Jen and Im thankful you are here everyday to love those boys and show them the way. Mom