Once I got the call from the radiology clinic to come back for a magnified mammogram and sonogram I called my sister, mom, childhood best friend, and told a few people who I was very close to, but until knowing more, I kept it a secret – there’s really no reason to freak people out if you don’t need to.I lived my life – went to work, hosted get together’s, attended gatherings and said nothing and didn’t act strange.
After my February 18th diagnosis there was no keeping it a secret and I knew I had to let my family, friends, acquaintances and job know.
Work: Since I received my breast cancer diagnosis over the phone at work, I decided to tell my job first. As a consultant, I work at my client site so I had to call my career manager and let him know over the phone – which also explained why I was missing so much work lately – all the doctor appointments leading up to my diagnosis. I am blessed to work for an amazing and caring firm, who were sensitive, understanding and supportive. Once I hung up the phone with my career manager, I walked out of the office and my client was standing there with my project lead because they were looking for me about something. The client was talking about needing this and that and I’m not comprehending anything being said. All I’m thinking is – I have breast cancer. Hold your tears in. Do not cry.
The client finally takes a breath and I respectfully tell my project lead that we need to talk in private ASAP. We finally get away and we go downstairs to my teammates office and close the door and I tell them that I was just diagnosed with breast cancer. I would be leaving for the day and I was taking a personal day the next day and I left. I requested they let the program manager and client know, which they did. Everyone was kind and supportive.
Family: I live halfway across the country from my family, so sitting down discussing it was not an option. I called my sister and my mother and confirmed what we prayed so hard against – indeed I have breast cancer. I asked that they let the family know.
Telling my 10-year-old son, that was the worst. I had been keeping him in the loop about my appointments, but really tried to remain confident that nothing was wrong. When I got home I called him to come downstairs and sit and talk to me. Usually I would get some type of argument, but I think he knew there was something going on. As we sat there talking his face goes pale. I did my best to hold back my tears because if he sees me losing it, he just might, too. After I explained everything to him I asked him if he had any questions. He did, he said, “Are you going to die?” There just so happened to be an airplane flying overhead and I looked him dead in the eye and said, “Boy, there is a better chance of that airplane falling out of the sky and landing on this house and killing me than this cancer killing me.” He laughed a bit and I have to admit it was great to see him smile and look a bit relieved.
His next question was, “Are you going to lose your hair?” I hadn’t spoken yet to my oncologist so I didn’t know, and I told him that, but with my spin on it! I said, “I don’t know, but if I do, I’m going to get me some cool wigs … long hair, short hair, I’ll be looking fly everyday no matter what!” He laughed and asked me what “looking fly meant.” I gave him the “You kids today” talk and we laughed and I let him go back upstairs and play his video game. I know he needed to process just like I did.
Friends: I was so exhausted from the discussions at work and with my family that I didn’t want to make several phone calls and relive it over and over again. I decided to send text messages to a small group of my closest friends. I know it seems impersonal, but I wanted my friends to hear it from me before word started getting out. I did apologize for my delivery method and my friends were understanding. Except one – she text back that “This isn’t the kind of information you text.” I totally understood, but it was all I had in me. That same friend ended up showing up at my house a couple hours later with a bottle of wine so I didn’t have to be alone. I was so thankful for that!
Later that night, I Facebook messaged a large group of friends and some of my relatives and let them know about my diagnosis.
The next day, I updated my Facebook status informing everyone on my friend’s list about my breast cancer diagnosis.