Thursday, 16 June 2011

I have some bad news ......

How do you tell your loved ones you have cancer?!?  Unfortunately I was faced with this predicament and to this day I still don't how how I got the words out.  Once I had arrived home from doing the school pick up I settled the girls in front of the TV with some afternoon tea.  Once they were happy I picked up my mobile phone (hands shaking) and called Ryan.  His phone rang out.  I frantically tried calling it again and it still rang out.  I was becoming impatient so tried calling his office number but this also went to message bank.  I suppose in a way I started to panic - I really wanted to speak with him but couldn't get hold of him.  Thankfully he phoned back minutes later and I told him through the start of tears 'I have some bad news'.  There was a brief silence where I started to sob and I went on to say 'it is cancer, I have breast cancer'.  Ryan was in shock but was able to respond with 'oh babe, I'm so sorry I am leaving work right now and will be home soon'.  To tell you the truth I don't really remember much more about our conversation - it really is a blur but I remember being extremely upset to the point where I thought I might vomit.

I then picked up the phone to ring my Mum and Dad.  Their home phone went to message bank so I immediately called Mum's mobile.  Similar to my call to Ryan I told her I had bad news and that it was cancer.  I was very emotional and although Mum was in shock she was strong and all I really remember her saying was 'oh Emma, I don't believe it'.  I knew she would want to know the exact medical terminology so I told her that it was malignant breast carcinoma (I specifically remember asking my Dr this as I knew both my Mum and Sister would ask!).  I have a feeling she was telling Dad in the background but again I don't really remember much more about the call.  My next call was to my sister Lizzy.  By this stage I was a mess and she knew the news wasn't good the moment she picked up my call - my voice just gave it away.  She was also crying so between sobbing I was able to tell her as much as I knew which wasn't really too much.  I was relieved I had told the most important people in my life but the whole situation felt quite surreal.  I remember actually pinching myself at one point - I wasn't quite sure if I was just in a bad dream.  I was extremely emotional and what made the situation all the more hard was my gorgeous little girls asking me why I was so upset.  I remember telling them that Mummy is a little bit sick and Jaz always being so curious asked 'where'?  I didn't want to tell them too much so just replied with 'Mummy's sick on the inside'.  Part of me is relieved that they aren't old enough to understand exactly what is going on but the other half deeply saddens me as I know they are aware that something isn't quite right.

Whilst waiting for Ryan to arrive home from work my mind was racing.  I had so many questions that I wanted to ask but I knew the answers would frighten me - first and foremost, what stage and grade was the cancer?  Will I need a lumpectomy or mastectomy?  Will I need chemotherapy or radiation therapy?  Is it anywhere else in my body?  Will it come back later in life?  I can't deny that dying crossed my mind also - how could it not at a time like this especially the thought of it returning down the track.  I know this must seem very negative but I also recall sobbing at the thought of missing out on all the wonderful times that Ryan and I would share in the future if I didn't win the battle (especially a dream of ours to renew our wedding vows on our 10 year wedding anniversary and also for Ryan to take me to New York and experience a horse & carriage ride through Central Park),  building our dream house in the Scarborough area and of course seeing our girls reach the important milestones in their life - such as finishing primary school, graduating from high school, their first boyfriend, their first job, wedding day, having children.  It absolutely ate me up inside to think that there is a chance I wouldn't be around to be by Ryan's side and to be there for my girls through all their ups and downs.  Ryan is a wonderful husband and Dad and I know that he would do anything and everything for our girls but it pains me to think he would have to do it all on his own, should the news be of the worst kind.

When Ryan walked through the door, we just hugged and sobbed.  It was such an emotional moment.

Ryan's mum kindly came over and took the girls out for a couple of hours.  We didn't want them seeing us so upset so it was nice that Noeleen could take them out for an early dinner.

Not what I was expecting...

I still remember the moment my home phone rang like it was only a couple of seconds ago.... it was 2.51pm on Thursday 16th June 2011 (the day before Ryan's birthday).  The person on the other end was my fantastic GP and one of the first things she asked was 'is anyone home with you right now'.  Immediately alarm bells went off and I knew I didn't want to hear what was going to come next.  She advised that the news wasn't good and the lump that I had found exactly 4 days earlier was in fact malignant breast carcinoma (breast cancer).  After putting down the phone I calmly picked up my car keys, strapped Baylee in the car and picked up Jaz from school as I would on any given day.  I couldn't ring Ryan, my parents or my sister straight away as I knew I would be a complete and utter mess and I didn't want Jaz to see me distraught at school pick up.  I wanted to remain as calm as I possibly could (given the circumstances) until I got home.

Before I go on, I must take you back 4 days prior.....

On Monday evening (13th June) I was sitting at our dining table writing up a shopping list (I think!?) when I scratched under my right arm and on the side of my right breast.  I felt an unusual lump so continued to check the surrounding area before asking my husband to feel it (much to his delight!! ha ha).  He could also feel the small lump and stressed that I needed to make a call to my Dr first thing in the morning.  Of course I agreed but to tell you the truth I really didn't think much of it following this and I think we watched another episode of The City on the iPad :)

The following morning I phoned the surgery and they were able to get me an appt for later that afternoon (4.15pm).  Perfect!  Did the usual daycare and school drop offs, headed to work and met Ryan at the Dr's later that day.  My wonderful doctor was extremely thorough and agreed that there was a lump and made an appt there and then for me to have mammograms, ultrasounds, FNA (fine needle aspiration) and core biopsy the following day in Cottesloe.  I greatly appreciated her fantastic assistance and as I left she said 'for women of your age, breast lumps are common however breast cancer is uncommon'.  Although I was extremely nervous about the following days tests, I agreed with her and thought if anything it will just be a little cyst / blocked duct.  Later that night I was on the phone to my parents and my sister to let them know what was going on and to also get some family history (I knew my Dad's sister was diagnosed with breast cancer approx 6 years ago).  Both my sister and mum come from hospital / medical backgrounds and they are always so helpful and reassuring.  They were both a little concerned but like me was confident it would be nothing to worry about.

Wednesday came and I was quietly petrified about the scans / tests I was going to be having just after lunch.  I spoke to a couple of my girlfriends (on the quiet) as kind of wanted to tell someone about my findings.  I also decided to advise my boss of my specialists appt (just in case it ended up being something serious).  They were all fantastic :)  I won't go into too much detail about the scans except to say that it was fairly routine although the FNA was bloody painful!!!!  The nurses were really lovely but  wouldn't/couldn't give much away when I asked her if she could shed some light on the lump - it would all come down to the pathology report.

As you can imagine, I didn't get much sleep on Wednesday night.  Went to bed late and was up fairly early.  Tried to keep myself busy all morning.  As the clock ticked over I became more and more anxious and even tried calling my GP (around lunchtime) to see if the results had arrived yet.  They hadn't of course so I made sure they had my mobile number.

Then at 2.51pm, my phone rang...