I remember clear blue skies, warm air and feeling carefree. I remember having no fear.
I remember the patients in the waiting room and the litany of questions from the PA as he looked at my scans. I remember feeling ambivalent and wondering why I needed to be there.
I remember the surgeon. I remember his white coat, large frame, facial hair and softly spoken words. I remember seeing the glowing white tumor on the MRI film clipped to the wall display as his words and subsequent silence set in. I remember feeling I had been used as a punching bag.
I remember what I was wearing and I remember exactly how the exam room was set up. I remember being alone. I remember the panic, shock and inability to form complete sentences. I remember the desperation and the knot in my stomach.
I remember the clutter in the nurses office as she called MD Anderson and set up a referral. I remember my shaking hands as I got off the elevator, trying to remain calm while asking for directions and walking to the hospital to get my scans on CD. I remember not knowing who to call and not being able to remember how to use my cell phone. I remember being alone.
I remember looking into people’s eyes wondering if they knew what I had just been told. I remember wondering if I had heard it all correctly and wondered if maybe I was wrong.
I remember calling Paul simply to tell him I didn’t have the best news and he needed to pick the kids up at preschool since I wouldn’t get there in time. I remember getting into my car and wondered how I would get home and how I would break the news to Paul.
I remember the guilt and I remember the dread of knowing I would have to tell my parents. I remember knowing how broken this news would leave them. I remember the guilt.
I remember where we stood in our house and I remember everything Paul said and I remember eventually laughing. I remember the laughter and I remember the hugs and I remember the love that can not be measured in marriage until you’re tested. I remember feeling grateful and I remember feeling safe. I remember no longer feeling alone.
I remember the heart breaking phone calls made in the following days and I remember each and every reaction nearly word for word. I remember the emails, cards and voice mails and I remember the ones who never responded, never reached out and simply walked away. I remember feeling numb.
I remember the emotional roller coaster and the unknowns. I remember what it felt like to think about my mortality and I remember wondering how we would put our life back together.
I remember the struggles, the sadness, finding our way, making the rules up as we went along and eventually I remember finding peace.
I remember, five years later, what could have been and what did become of our lives after June 20, 2007.
Good, bad, beautiful and ugly, every aspect of what’s become of our lives on this journey has been humbling, inspiring, gut wrenching, full of perspective, gratitude and appreciation.
I will remember today.
You blog brings back my memories as well….
I remember the headaches, the dizziness, and the often repeated statement…”I have a headache, I just want to go lay down”. I remember laughing, coughing or sneezing even hurt at one point due to the pressure inside my head.
I remember being told to have a seat after my CT scan they were going to page my doctor. I had never been told that before, so honestly (maybe if I was in denial) but I just didn’t think it was unusual.
I remember it was about an hour later that the CT technician came to me and said “Your CT scan was abnormal, we have contacted your doctor and we are calling in a neurosurgeon and he will be meeting you in the emergency room as soon as he can get here”. It was about 7:00 in the evening.
I also remember being alone… I had a huband and son at home that I didn’t think needed to go with me for a CT scan.
I remember the sudden flood of nurses in the emergency room, those checking my vitials, others taking blood samples and one who even asked if I wanted to see the hospital chaplian. He did not want me to be alone when they broke the news that I still didn’t know was coming.
I opted instead to call my husband to advise him that I was told my CT was abnormal and a neurosurgeon was on his way to meet me. I asked him to meet me at the emergency room. I remember his response was, “where are you?”, and I repeated “in the emergency room”. Then he used a bit of profanity and clarified “What !!??@# hospital?”
I remember the neurosurgeon arriving at roughly the same time my husband arrived around 9:15 p.m.
I remember the neurosurgeon was wearing a suit with a bow tie (an gentlemen of about 60) he looked nothing like I expected. Not sure what I expected?
I remember him asking the nurse “I need a really high tech piece of equipment to give a thorough exam, I need a safety pin”. He used the safety pin to test my ability to feel the prick of the pin in the palms of my hands and on my face.
I remember him asking me to try and clap my hands as if I was playing patty cake and I was beginning to feel a little silly and then then I remember the words just came out…
“You have a large mass in your head and you are in need of immediate treatment which calls for surgery. I can either admit you now or I can allow you to go home and talk to your family, pack a bag and you can meet me first thing in the morning at the hospital. You will be admitted and prepared for surgery.”
It was the longest night ever…I called my parents at 10:30 that night to break the news. They didn’t even know I was having a CT scan, only that I had been complaining of severe headaches.
That was the first day of the rest of my life. Those words and the days that followed made me even more determined to be the best wife and mother I could be. I still live today with conviction that even the things I do not like and can not change, I am still alive and I can learn from those things. I beleive this has made me a better person.
Thank you for sharing your story and listening to mine.
Michelle: Thank you for sharing your memory and story. I am honored you shared it.
You have such a gift of allowing us into your soul –your life-being; each word you write has impact and helps our lives intertwine with your journey. I am so happy you came into my life and I love that my connection with you allows me to feel your memories to the extent someone from the outside looking in is able. lots of love to you and yours, Laura
Speechless… Having so many different emotions.
You are a marvel in this world. I am deeply moved by your memories. I also find it wonderfully ironic that memories are stored in the brain… right where your tumor rests… just more evidence in my book that you are not letting that freakin’ thing rob you of anything. It may be taking up some space in your noggin’, but it is NOT taking you down. love & admiration your way. xo Alex
Thank you Alex. Your words of support are always so heartfelt and meaningful.
I just want to give you a hug! Beautifully written made me cry. So grateful to have you, Paul, the boys and Harper in our lives.
So happy to have you, Andrew and all your girls in our lives. We are very grateful. I look at the angel you gave me a few years back each day and I think of you and our friendship. Love you.
You.are.awesome! I admire so much about you and the love your family has for one another is palpable. Xoxoxo
Your words always touch my heart. Thank you for sharing all of yourself with us. xoxoxo
Holly, you have a special place in my heart. Thank you.
What is it with the guilt and the parents? After battling childhood cancer and then this thyroid issue – I felt so guilty telling them. After I painted the honest picture of my thyroid prognosis, they asked me if I was hiding the truth from them. I no longer felt guilty. We should never feel guilty for what the universe gives us, especially when we rise to the occasion and treat it as just another circumstance. We should never feel guilty for other’s comprehensive short comings. We are no better, no worse, just different. I don’t like to characterize people as “fighters”. We are just people with a different mindset that allows us to continue our lives and make it better for our family.
I am not sure myself about the guilt aside to say that it did exist. I am past it now for many reasons, but yes, it it never easy. I agree that we are just people with a different mindset. Love and hugs to you my dear friend. Your wisdom is so great.
Wow. You are amazing.
Kathy, I hope you will join us next month. Love and hugs to the entire Bennett family. Thank you.
brought tears to my eyes jen. thanks for never giving up. i have learned a lot from reading your posts. you are definitely an inspiration.
Brought tears to my eyes too. Thank you.
So beautifully written and made me cry. Love you, Jen.
Thank you. Hugs.
Speechless…so greatful for you!
Grateful for you Sarah. Thank you.
Surely a day etched in your memory along with many other milestones in your life. I am glad that you chose to fight, to share, to live! You are an amazing woman and I am lucky to call you friend.
Yes, Leigh… good point. One of many moments and etched into our memory. This one just happens to be very significant. Thank you for your support my friend.
Chills. Chin up, mama.
Chills here too… many tears too.
Again, thank you for letting us all in and sharing your journey with us. Keep marching forward. xo
We move on and we forge ahead. Thank you.
Breathtaking account of your journey. Wishing peace and love not only today but everyday! You are a strong and resilient women!
Peace to you and thank you for your support.