Today it sunk in.
I have breast cancer.
I mean, sure, I was diagnosed about three weeks ago, but it wasn't until today when I was at the McMaster Pre Op Clinic that it became real.
The nurse looked at me and said, "Okay, so, your surgery will take about an hour and a half, and you will be here for 3 to 5 hours afterward." When she explained how it would all happen, she gave me a "Great info package for breast cancer to take home and read." I burst into tears.
You see, in my life, I have been around a lot of cancer. My dad had thyroid cancer when I was a teenager, and I remember being told that it was one of the "best" cancers to have. I will never forget walking into my parents room to find my dad crying, with my Mom, because he was so scared. My father was not someone who cried. He was a loud, strong Spanish man. He was a bit strict and I didn't see him cry much, so this left a big imprint on me. After surgery and some radioactive iodine, he assured me that he was fine.
And then, about 13 years later, he was diagnosed with Multple Myeloma, a cancer of the bones, and he was given 3 months to live. When he was told of his diagnosis he banged his strong fist on the table and loudly stated that he "Wasn't going anywhere...I have too much love to give!" My father lived for 11 years with this horrible disease, and he was strong, full of love and life, until of course, he wasn't. He passed away on August 10, 2013 and I miss him and think of him every day.
But here's the thing, I used to be one of my Dad's caregivers. My mom and I would hang out with him at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, taking notes, making him laugh, listening to the doctors and just being with someone that we loved a lot.
As time went on, and I grew older, a few friends were diagnosed with different cancers, and I tried to help them out as much as I could. You see, I am good at taking care of people. And I like to take care of them. I imagined taking care of my loved ones, and being the caregiver for a very long time.
It never occurred to me that I would be the person who needed help. And right now, I am okay, but on July 21st, things will change. After a lumpectomy and a sentinel node biopsy where they remove 3 lymph nodes to see if the cancer has spread, we wait to find out what happens next. (Fingers and toes crossed that it hasn't.)
During that time, I will need help. And it honestly flips me out.
Today when i was getting my blood taken, I could almost hear my dad's voice. He used to say that I took after my grandmother, his mother, in that I had no visible veins. I was a challenge to nurses everywhere. I remember him telling me that he hoped that I would never have to be in a similar position as he was, with cancer, a pincushion for nurses and doctors. But here I am. And I am freaked out, and so scared, but ready to move forward and make change in my body. It's time to ask cancer to move on, get out, and leave me alone.
I sit here, with a bruised arm, two cats on one side of me, a dog by my feet, knowing that this time, I will be the patient. This time round, I am the person with cancer.