I have to share two important pieces of news before I get into my blog;
I would first like to say that the Relay for Life was incredible. Team Katie raised, now are you ready for this, over $10 000. I am still amazed. The initial goal was $1000 so I would say that we successfully beat our goal by, oh I don't know, 10 times! Fantastic work guys! I am so proud to be the 'Katie' of Team Katie. Thank you for all your hard work! A special thanks goes out to Kristi for
entering the team and being such a fantastic captain.
Secondly, last night I got quite an amazing phone call. It went like this;
Caller: "Hi, can I speak to Katie, please?"
Me: "This is Katie."
Caller: "Hi Katie, this is Dr. Smith (not her real name). I just wanted to say 'thank you' for getting your story out there' (she had seen my picture in the 24hours article yesterday).
Now, like I mention below, I am petrified of needles. After my second ultrasound (my first ultrasound with Dr.Smith, my radiologist), she recommended that I get a biopsy but I started hysterically crying because I knew that many needles were involved. She put me at ease and we rescheduled a follow-up, 3 months later. After my 3rd ultrasound (2nd with Dr.Smith) and mammogram, Dr.Smith told me that they found something on the mammagram that could be the signs of breast cancer and the only way to know for sure was to do a biopsy.
She called me the night before my biopsy just to make sure that I was still coming. I may not have gone back to get the biopsy if I would have had a different radiologist. I don't know how to explain her approach but she was both sweet and expressed the severity of the situation without scaring me away. The most amazing part about Dr.Smith is that the week before my biopsy was her last week before she went on maternity leave and knowing how scared I was, she came back in, while on leave, so that she could be the one to perform the biopsy.
The reason for her call last night was to see how I was feeling physically and doing mentally. Now if that isn't dedication and devotion, I don't know what is. Then, to top it off, she called to thank me? I had sent her a thank you card about 2 months ago because without her 'push' I would probably still have a lump in my breast and be in denial. Thank you Dr.Smith for everything you
Now, on to blog #2...
From as far back as I can remember, I have used the phrase "I can't wait..." on a consistent basis. I can't wait until I'm 4 and go to 'real' school and not pre-school. I can't wait until I'm 13 because I will be considered a teenager and not a kid. I can't wait until I'm 16 and can drive. I can't wait until I'm 18 and considered an adult (and vote, of course). I can't wait until I'm 19 so I can drink (legally) and 21 so I can drink internationally. I can't wait until I'm 25, then my car insurance goes down, I can get into the 25+ clubs downtown and my life will be in order.
At 26 I look back and think, why was I in such a hurry? Now don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say at the ripe old age of 26, I am wise. I just wish I would have slowed down. Once you hit 25 there are no exciting ages to reach (no offense to anyone over 26). Everyone seems to be scared of 30 and and the thought of 40, well, yikes! Why was I rushing? I loved my childhood and my high school years were great too. It has been very easy to think "I can't wait until 2012", actually, I have said it a few times. I've said that I want to find a fast-forward button and zoom right past this year. I don't want to feel each chemo, the mastectomy was enough, and each doctor's appointment where new results are revealed can easily be skipped (today, I found out that my bone scan was clear; yahoo!).
Early on, my mom came into my bedroom and started to cry (now, if you know my mom, she breaks down at Bell commercials so it wasn't all that out of the ordinary). Regardless, she was crying and said "I just wish you didn't have to go through this." I had to agree with her. I wish I didn't have to go through it either. Cancer sucks! However, what I said to her was, "Mom,
there is a reason that I have to feel all of this. There's a reason that I have breast cancer." Now I may be fooling myself into thinking that because it gives me some hope, faith even, but so far it has worked. I have to feel each painful step of this journey in order to learn from it. And hopefully, I will teach from it. I have learned more in the past 3 months than I have in the past 3 years. I have learned about kindness, selflessness, support systems, pain, compassion, love, fear, and thoughtfulness.
I think it's just easier for me to see the preciousness of life because I've felt my stomach sink after hearing "You have cancer". If anything, instead of my life flashing before me, it was almost the opposite. Everything that I hadn't accomplished seemed to rush through my brain. Babies, a career, a house, a car, a big wedding, etc. etc. etc. all stormed my brain until I couldn't think. I think all I said was "Holy, shit! I wasn't expecting that!"
The girl in the bed next to me at chemo last week wasn't very pleasant. She just stayed silent and didn't speak to her friend that she brought; she just stared out the window. The nurse was saying things like, 'it's a rule that you have to smile' but that only made the frown bigger. At first, all I thought was, 'how can you be so negative?' but it wasn't long until I realized the assumptions that I was making. Maybe she doesn't have the support system I have or maybe she just found out some test results or maybe she hasn't been given many months to live. Then I thought, maybe her dog died this morning. Just because someone has cancer doesn't mean that her life revolves around it. It doesn't mean that when she is having a bad day it has anything to do with cancer, maybe she is just having a bad day. Maybe she got into a fender-bender on the way to the grocery store. Maybe she just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
I have learned that life is so precious and is taken for granted on a daily basis by all of us. I have realized that I am not invincible and I will not live forever. I have tried to incorporate that into the way I live now. I was in the shower the other day worrying about something (my next needle [I am petrified, like I take 3 Ativan and use Emla cream, to get blood drawn oh, and let's not forget the uncontrollable crying - thank you, mom.], chemo, weight gain, etc.) and thought "you can worry about this and you might get hit by a bus today OR you can deal with it as it comes and try to RELAX." I chose the latter and I was able to survive that day without consuming myself with all the 'what-ifs' of cancer.
I think, with all of the lessons that I am learning, when it comes to this event in my life, I think I CAN wait.